SQL Diagnostic Manager

Desktop Application Refresh
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Project Details

Company: IDERA, Inc.

My Role: Director of UX and Design

Link: GA August 2019

The Product
SQL Diagnostic Manager is a SQL Server Database monitoring tool. It provides alerts of database performance issues on-premise and in the cloud. It has features to help DBAs quickly locate and fix SQL Server performance problems.
The Problem
SQL Diagnostic Manager was built in late 90's. It still has the old Windows 98 look and feel. Even though it is being updated, the UI makes appear it isn't. DBAs are not renewing their licenses. Management wants to fix that.

The Solution

Modernize and improve the navigation. Collapse the stacked menu into one. Replace the old Windows ribbon navigation with a top navigation bar. Make the toolbars and containers dockable. Add actions on the top of containers. Add search to the header bar. Make the top navigation static. Update the outdated styling and design patterns. Use flat design. Replace the old Windows 98 icons with flat SVGs so they support 4K monitors.

How I Reached My Solution

The Plan


For the past two years we have been performing various user studies on SQL Diagnostic Manager attempting to improve the onboarding experience. During those studies we were able to unearthed the user problem regarding the outdated UI and user poor perception.


I gathered the data and placed it in an affinity diagraming. I shared the diagram with the team so we can organize the data together. We grouped the information by user scenarios. Under each scenario we listed user goals, pain points, required features and nice to have features.


After reviewing the completed diagram, we determined in order to change DBAs perception of SQL Diagnostic Managers so they believe it is being maintained and updated frequently and won't go away anytime soon, we needed a large and obvious visual update to the application.

The Design Process


We gathered the product and design team, which consisted of Managing Product Manager, DM Product Manager, DM Lead Architect, Lead UX Designer (myself) and SQL product UX Designer. We brainstorm and sketched possible solutions.


I was given a short turnaround time. I opted to create a low-fi clickable wireframes to test with existing and new DBA customers. I also wanted to use a low-fi so the DBAs weren't distracted by the design and could focus on completing their tasks.


I created a test script. I planned to test DBAs performing the top five daily monitoring tasks using the prototype and their understanding of the new iconography. I worked with the Product Manager to established benchmarks for completing tasks. We wanted to compare them to our current product task completion times. It took three iteration before meeting benchmark expectations.


Shorter Task Time

Task completion took on average about 34 seconds.

Faster than Current APP

Task completion was 118 seconds faster than the current app.

Increase in Renewals

Number of users would renew subscriptions increased 98%.

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