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Nicholas Pappas, MSc

Product Designer

Seattle, WA

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Please excuse the mess while I move stories to my new host and webpage format. Content first; format second.

Developer Trust

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Helping seamless user-system collaboration and developer trust through a natural language rule editor.

Summary

Seeing low feature adoption, we saw an opportunity to transform a complex data-driven GUI into an intuative natural language rule editor that enabled seamless collaboration between users and the system. By focusing on creating a conversation-like interaction and quantitative design validation, I successfully improved the usability and adoption of the Traffic Policies feature while gaining the trust of the initially skeptical development team.

Problem Framing

F5 Networks' Traffic Policies feature suffered from minimal use due to its confusing, data-driven UI that forced users to fully understand the inner workings of the feature to configure a policy. The feature's adoption was hindered by the lack of a user-centric approach in its design.

Screenshot of the original Traffic Policies workflow, with several usability issues redlined for discussion (1 of 3) Screenshot of the original Traffic Policies workflow, with several usability issues redlined for discussion (2 of 3) Screenshot of the original Traffic Policies workflow, with several usability issues redlined for discussion (3 of 3)

25m

TIME TO COMPLETE

Extensive time spect to complete 10 use cases.

50%

ABANDONMENT

Users frequently got lost and gave up.

36%

ERROR

Uncertainty in relationships caused confusion.

23%

SUS

Frustration ran high.

My Role

As the lead product designer, I conducted all facets of the redesign, collaborating with a cross-functional team of developers and stakeholders. My role was to bridge the gap between the users' needs and the system's capabilities, while also building trust with the development team.

Approach

To gain the trust of the development team, I began by conducting heuristic evaluations of the existing GUI and discussing the issues with developers during weekly design coordination meetings. This collaborative approach allowed me to provide respectful feedback, understand the reasoning behind the original design decisions, and communicate the benefits of a user-centered design process.

I then focused on creating a natural language rule editor that would enable seamless collaboration between the user and the system. By analyzing user input from interviews and use cases, I identified the need for a rule editor that could represent each rule as a readable, understandable sentence.

An illustration of a designer presenting to developers sitting at a table

Challenges

One of the main challenges was the development team's unfamiliarity with user-centered design processes. To overcome this, I regularly communicated the project's status and the importance of focusing on the user's needs. Additionally, the feature's underutilization meant making design decisions in the face of ambiguity and uncertainty, which required a data-driven approach to validation.

Solution

The solution was a natural language rule editor that represented each rule as a sentence, allowing users with no previous experience to easily read and understand the feature. This approach enabled the user and the system to collaborate more effectively, as they could now communicate in a shared language.

Screenshot of the new simplied Traffic Policies workflow (1 of 2) Screenshot of the new simplied Traffic Policies workflow (2 of 2)

To validate the design, I conducted user testing on ten functional use cases and compared the results with the original design. The data showed significant improvements in time to complete tasks, reduced abandonment, and decreased error rates, demonstrating the effectiveness of the natural language rule editor.

Results and Impact

The natural language rule editor resulted in a 32% reduction in time to complete tasks, a 43% decrease in abandonment, and a 21% reduction in errors compared to the original design. These data-driven results helped to further gain the trust of the development team in the user-centered design process.

17m

TIME TO COMPLETE

A conversation reduces communication time.

7%

ABANDONMENT

Uncertainty of relationships continued to confuse.

15%

ERROR

Tcl and RegEx tasks didn't help the user.

87%

SUS

Previous users were very happy.

Next Steps

To address the remaining abandonment and errors, I implemented two additional design actions based on user input: a popover for text fields accepting regular expressions and the reintroduction of nesting into the design. Further user testing validated these improvements, resulting in even better metrics.

Screenshot of the Taffic Policies northstar design

12m

TIME TO COMPLETE

Streamlinging the conversation reduced time on task.

0%

ABANDONMENT

Working together keeps the user engaged.

0%

ERROR

The system helps with the more difficult tasks.

82%

SUS

Satisfaction of new users was still high

By focusing on user-system collaboration through a natural language rule editor and validating design decisions with data, I successfully improved the usability and adoption of F5 Networks' Traffic Policies feature while gaining the trust of the development team in the user-centered design process.