In a recent blog post, JF Boisvert from Rapid7's User Experience (UX) team spoke about the new and improved User Experience with Nexpose. JF condensed the changes to Nexpose over the past 5 years. In that time, the product user interface has under gone massive changes. The focus of Nexpose 6.0 is the information security content. Navigation is placed in a secondary role, yet our customers continue to have easy access to global features like notifications and user settings. In addition, the release of Nexpose 6.0 has put information prioritization and readability at the forefront.
While all of these changes to Nexpose are the responsibility of the UX team at Rapid7, many of our customers have truly had a huge impact in the new designs you see by participating in our UX research program. This effort is led by myself, Ger Joyce, Rapid7's UX Research Lead, and by Evan Jacobs, Rapid7's Customer Advocacy Manager. The UX Design, UI Development, and Visual Design of the final product is part of the iceberg that everyone sees. The UX Research effort is the unseen part of this iceberg. This is an intensive effort at the start of each design project at Rapid7, where we strive to learn about our customers, their needs and goals, and the pains points they are trying to solve.
The UX Research effort kicks off during the Discover phase of the UX process loop. This phase is a collaboration between the UX Research team and the Product Management team. The Product Management team will review possible ideas for new and improved features within Rapid7's product portfolio, based primarily on requests from customers. Both teams will then strive to find out precisely which issues our customers are trying to solve.
To ensure that we gather the right information, the UX Research team will write a one-page research design plan. This includes the overarching research question(s), the timeline, the number of participants, and the methods we feel would be best employed to answer the research question(s).
Evan will then reach out to customers that have signed up for the Customer Voice Program. The UX Research team, in collaboration with the Product Management team, will start working with our customers to truly understand their needs. This in-depth investigation generally tends to surface information that goes beyond the requested feature, and in turn ultimately enables the UX research team to better articulate a solution which will better meet our customers needs. Some of the methods we might employ are:
- Remote & face-to-face Interviews
- System Usability Scale
- Contextual Inquiry
- Focus Groups
- Diary Studies
- Participatory Design
Once we have gathered enough information, and truly understand our customer's viewpoints, we build Personas and Scenarios. These ensure that each department within Rapid7 is aligned by:
- Building consensus and alignment across our organization
- Identifying universal features and functionality
- Focusing and making appropriate trade-off decisions
- Delivering holistic and customer-centric information security solutions
At this stage, the UX Design team go to work. Their designs are created iteratively based on a customer-centric approach, with each iteration being shown to customers during each stage to see if the designs solve our customer's issues. Each iteration allows us to see what works with the design and what can be improved. With this new knowledge, we step back, iterate once more, then gather further customer feedback. This approach follows the Design/Validate/Learn and Refine phases of the UX Process Loop.
With each iteration, our designs increase in functionality and fidelity. So, we may start off with low-fidelity mock ups, and work slowly toward high-fidelity prototypes. This allows our design team to learn many things with each customer interaction, including perceptions of look-and-feel, usability, and utility. That way we can be sure that we are designing the right solution, that is useful, usable, and looks good.
One example of the result of the UX Research effort is the use of the First Time User Experience with Nexpose 6.0. We needed to investigate if customers wanted to have a First Time User Experience, and if so what it is they wanted to see. From our interviews, and validation of prototypes, we learned that customers wanted to see a First Time User Experience that highlighted the main changes to Nexpose with 6.0 release. This allowed our customers to maximize their productivity immediately, and significantly lessened the time they needed to get up to speed with the new release. We also learned that it was important to show the First Time User Experience only once.
Within a few short months, the combined UX Research and UX Design effort has enabled Rapid7's User Experience and Product Management teams to create radically improved designs that really help to meet our customer's needs and goals, to solve their pain points, and allow our customers to better improve their organization's security posture. This has only been possible because of the wonderful collaborative relationship we have with our customers. On that note, the UX Research team would like to thank each and every one of our customers that took time out of their busy schedules to take part in our UX Research effort. This collaboration is vital in ensuring that Rapid7 designs our products that meet your needs.