SQL Monitor 3.1 released

We’ve just released SQL Monitor 3.1 – here’s a look at the new features and how we developed them…

Next we would like ‘Next’…

For version 3 of SQL Monitor we used UserVoice so people could tell us what they wanted to see in the next version of SQLMonitor. The most requested feature was to add ‘previous/next’ navigation to the Alert details so users could navigate between issues within the same screen. The root of this problem was that the filtering in the Alert inbox did not persist as it should. That is, when a filter had been set, navigating between alerts or changing other parameters would undo the filter.

Now it may seem like the simplest of things to ‘add previous/next’ to the Alert details page and indeed we could have done just that and released it. But we took some time to research how the Alert inbox and detail pages were being used and user-tested several designs and we think we’ve improved on it. Here’s how we arrived at the released feature.

Research

We often think of the Alerts as being like emails in an inbox and the most popular email clients – Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail – all place previous/next in the top right-hand corner of the emails and this felt like the most intuitive place to put them.

Previous/Next

Test

We quickly created a prototype and showed the design to one of our ‘heavy users’ Jonathan (@fatherjack) who immediately thought they should be moved. He identified a ‘hotspot’ of activity where users focus when working through the alerts. Both in the inbox and on the detail pages, the important stuff is often over to the left and there’d be a lot of eye and mouse travel if the previous/next navigation was placed top right.

Hotspot

This made sense to us, but we tested this on a few other users and heard a few more comments on the position. So we moved them to the hotspot, ran a couple more tests and were satisfied with the position.

However, early in the round of tests we discovered that using up/down arrows or the words previous and next could be ambiguous. Did previous mean the next oldest or newest? Different users gave different answers. One user suggested ‘newer/older’. We iterated the design, continued testing and found no more ambiguity.

Newer Older

We also discovered that investigating an alert could lead the user away from the alerts altogether, to the Anlaysis or Overview pages for example, but users wanted to return to the filtered alerts. So we’ve now made the filtering persist until manually cleared.

Clear filter

And there’s more…

We’ve made a few tweaks elsewhere including adding more default time ranges to the Analysis page and fixing some bugs and known issues.

Time range

We hope we’ve improved SQL Monitor and we’re grateful for the support of our users, especially those who’ve taken the time to email, leave a suggestion on UserVoice or take part in a usability sesson – it’s invaluable getting feedback from people using the software – so please email us if you have any further feedback or if you’d be interested in our next round of usability sessions.

Right, now it’s on with the next version…

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