AT A GLANCE
ROLE: Lead product designer at Redgate Software
WORKING WITH: Product managers | Product marketing | Engineers
DURATION: 2 months
ACTIVITIES: Desk research | Survey | User interviews | Kano Model | Mockups
SQL Monitor is Redgate’s most important product. It allows database administrators (DBAs) to monitor their database estate so that they can keep business critical systems available. With organisations increasingly moving their IT infrastructure into the cloud, including their databases, there was a need to better understand what this means for the future of SQL Monitor.
As the lead product designer for SQL Monitor I carried out some critical discovery research to better understand the monitoring needs of organisations with cloud databases and to define the key user problems to focus on. With a focus on the first half of the design double diamond, the goal of the research was:
To better understand how customers approach cloud database monitoring and to test possible strategic options.
Defining a research approach
Working with key stakeholders, such as product managers and marketing managers I defined and agreed a research approach that would combine qualitative and quantitative research. I not only wanted to understand the ‘What?’, but also the ‘Why?’.
I used a research canvas (see 10 questions to ask before any user research) to discuss and agree the research goals, key learning questions, assumptions, stakeholders, methods, outputs and timeline for the research.
Analysing existing insights
In order to focus the discovery research, I wanted to understand what was currently known about monitoring cloud databases. This helped to identify key learning questions and assumptions that the research would need to cover.
I collated and analysed insights that had already been gathered within the organisation, along with insights from industry reports and surveys. Furthermore, I spoke to domain experts within the organisation who could share their own insights and feedback from customers.
Use of cloud databases survey
To better understand how customers are utilising cloud databases, how they approach monitoring cloud databases and their most important needs I created an in-depth survey using SurveyMonkey. This was sent out to Redgate customers and contacts.
To incentivise completion of the survey, I promised participants a follow up report (which I wrote in conjunction with marketing) detailing key findings. This was an inexpensive and very effective way to drive survey engagement and completion rates.
In-depth user interviews
To complement the survey, I carried out 7 follow-up user interviews with DBAs. These interviews were an opportunity to better understand attitudes towards cloud databases, to identify user needs and to better understand the why behind those needs.
I started with an open-ended exploratory conversation and then utilised a ‘Buy the feature’ type exercise (see How to play the ‘Buy a feature’ design game) to explore how valuable a range of cloud monitoring focused concepts might be for users.
Using the Kano model to evaluate potential features
The Kano model is a method for evaluating how users will react to features, or perhaps more importantly, the absence of features (See How 2 simple questions can help shape your product roadmap).
Using the kano model two questions are asked for each potential product feature:
- How will users feel if they have the feature?
- How will users feel if they didn’t have the feature?
I created a survey to capture responses to these questions for potential new features. This provided quantitative data to compliment the qualitative data gathered through the user interviews.
The Kano model indicated which of the new features were ‘Must-be’, ‘Performance’, ‘Attractive’ or ‘Indifferent’ features for users.
Turning insights into actions
As a proponent of co-design (see UX design is a team sport and is best played like one) I ensured that key stakeholders, including product managers and development teams were able to participate in the research (such as observing user interviews). I provided regular research updates and a more extensive playback following extensive analysis.
To help showcase how the concepts that resonated with users might be incorporated into the product, I created some high fidelity mockups. This helped teams and stakeholders to better understand the value these concepts would deliver to users.
The discovery research has helped to identify key user needs and to evaluate potential new features. It has informed the roadmap for SQL Monitor development teams and helped steer the longterm product strategy.