product designer
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Logging Service Calculator @ Palo Alto Networks

A tool that shipped during my internship at Palo Alto Networks.

Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity of interning as an interaction designer at a leading cybersecurity company, Palo Alto Networks. Of the many projects, I worked on a design solution that improves customer experience. The Logging Service Calculator enables customers to calculate how much logging storage they need for their purchased Palo Alto Networks service.

 

What is Logging Service?

Palo Alto Networks provides services and hardware that prevents cyberattacks. Of their many products, Logging Service allows customers to track their Firewalls’ data so that they can maximize the value of their security infrastructure. However, there is a challenge that customers face when it comes to making a decision about purchasing logging storage.

Customers have to go through many tedious steps to calculate their logging storage.

Users have to read over long webpages in order to find and download an excel spread sheet that allows them to calculate logging storage. Below are some screenshots of the tedious process.

 
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Exploration

I played around with the interface

I didn’t get the chance to test this with customers, so I tried playing around with the excel sheet to figure out the calculator’s behavior.

This is how I felt when I used the excel spreadsheet--

  • I was not sure if I had to fill out all the inputs

  • Did I really just download an excel sheet for this…

  • Do customers have access to the data being asked

  • To what extent do they need to include all this information?

  • Was there an easier way to do this?

Working with product managers and engineers

In addition to my own exploration, I followed-up with the product manager and the engineers on the Logging Service team with these questions:

Context

  • Why is this product/feature important?

  • What impact will it have on logging service?

  • How does it benefit customers?

  • What causes the need for this tool to be used?

Audience

  • Who is the user and what is their goal?

Questions for the engineers?

  • What information is relevant to the user? 

  • What information is relevant for engineers?

  • How can we get rid of redundancy and speed-up the work flow?

  • How can we enhance the learnability?

 
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Understanding the value of the problem

One of my biggest goals during this internship was to see where business and design intersect, and how much impact design can make for the business.

So I started by asking, what kind of customer experience problems are we solving?

  1. Adoption

  2. Retention

  3. Satisfaction — the workflow involved a lot of friction

  4. Engagement

  5. Efficiency —it took long to complete the task

By narrowing these objectives down, we understood that the redesign must focus on improving the friction in the workflow, and offer a more efficient and intuitive way for users to calculate logging storage on their own.

 
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Solution Focus & Impact

Palo Alto Networks customers have had to go through long, tedious steps to figure out how much logging storage to purchase. This frustrates many customers who are trying to make decisions on how much storage to purchase, creating delays in sales. Therefore, this logging service calculator must focus on simple, quick, and intuitive interactions to make storage calculation more accessible. This increases customer satisfaction, workflow efficiency, and can improve overall sales as customers make faster purchasing decisions. The goal is to also decrease customer service calls.

 

Simplifying the workflow

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Eliminating friction = Less effort

During my meetings with the product manager, I would walk through the mental model of a customer going through the workflow of figuring out logging storage. This included thinking about

  • What information do customers already have with them?

    • Most customers already know what products they will be using

    • Sometimes they might not know their log rate

  • What is the sequence of things the customers have to do to complete the task?

    • Choose products

    • Include the most necessary information for the chosen products

    • Dynamically watch the numbers change

  • What can we eliminate from the current workflow?

    • Unnecessary numbers and information

    • Downloading documents

    • Reading long instructions

 
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Customer Journey

  1. Choose the products/services the customer will be using

  2. Forms will appear according to which products customer choose. This is to make it easier for users to keep track of what information is absolutely necessary.

  3. Just like a check-out page, users are able to see the total storage they need based on the information they put in. 

  4. Edge case: For customers that don’t know their log rate for firewalls:

    • We can help estimate it for them

 

“So it kinda works like a check-out cart.”


I had never worked on enterprise products, but I have learned that it is possible to carry over an idea you see in the mainstream and combine it with the nature of enterprise products.

 
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A lot of the patterns in this UI are related to online shopping- choosing products, selecting quantity, and figuring out the total price. In the Logging Service Calculator, users are pretty much doing something similar.

 

Designing the Interaction

Decluttering

Customers only fill out the most necessary information. This means being able to choose which products are particularly relevant to them. More information appears as users click through the options, making it less cluttery and more intuitive.

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Better Context

Just like a shopping cart, customers are able to change their numbers on the forms and see the total dynamically change. We wanted to empower customers to make fast decisions. Providing a design that helps customers retain context helps with this. Additionally the “recommended storage” side bar floats as the customer scrolls down the page. This is to ensure that customers will always be able to see the total change as they are changing up their numbers.

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Helping customers measure log rate

What if customers don’t know their log rate? I suggested a way for us to help customers calculate their log rate with a simple pop-up modal. We realize that not every customer has ready access to their firewall data, so helping them figure out their numbers improves customer experience overall.

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Now available here.

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Takeaways

You can empower engineers to become designers too.

At Palo Alto Networks, I realized that there is a positive and productive impact when we influence engineers to engage in design thinking. It pushes me to think in terms of the technical constraints and possibilities, but at the same time, pushes engineers to be limitless in their implementation methods.

Transcend user experience to customer experience.

I was inspired by Satyam Katamneni’s Design is [Business] talk at Google. He says-

“if you don’t understand the business outcome, you are solving a problem you don’t understand.”

This stuck with me throughout the whole project, and it helped me scope what design experience to achieve so that customers no longer have a difficult time making decisions. The term “customer experience” gets your stakeholders to pay attention, and when you are solving a “customer experience” problem, you are balancing the user needs and business needs at the same time.

Technical knowledge helps. A ton.

While I admit that I am not a strong coder, I realized how much easier it becomes when communicating with engineers. I found myself going to Bootstrap and telling engineers examples of existing interactions that can be implements in the Logging Service Calculator. This makes me even more motivated to brush up and improve my front-end coding skills so that I become a more well-rounded and diversely skilled designer.