Richard Emberton UX Design

User Experience and Product Designer

Re-designing security for Microsoft

Making an admin tool easier for new users

Microsoft's Forefront Identity Manager was being updated, and an opportunity opened up to address usability concerns.

High-fidelity prototype in HTML.

Role and scope

One designer, often reaching out to other UX teams at Microsoft, to utilize existing related research.

The project was largely information architecture and UI design. With much of their known UX issues being from informal customer feedback collected when dev team leads talked with customers at trade shows, etc.


Feedback was collected through user interviews, contextual inquiry, and from:

A Post-it notes wall card sorting exercise to re-group links into categories and sub-categories.

Additional details were revealing through cognitive walkthroughs and simple heuristic evaluations. Discussion with product stakeholders factored in the business goals and aided in prioritization. And sync'ing with dev's schedule allowed UX issues to be addressed before dev worked on that part of the code.

Ideation and Design

Simple broad categories were proposed for the beginning of user's experience, with labels and descriptions of sub-categories or items surfaced immediately below, as a rapid means to find and jump to key areas in the product.

The duplicates issue: The need to access the same thing from different areas, in the prior tree navigation, was a known issue. Other issues:

Sketch comparing tree nav with a contents page arrangement (grouped headings and sub-item links) to reduce vertical scrolling and allow more items to be visible without opening tree "branches."

Quick slide-show prototypes of existing product screens, but altered, were used for rapid informal tests of variations. Demo presentations were used to help "sell" ideas and get buy-in.

And discussions with the business-side stakeholders revealed which features they wanted to showcase for competitive reasons.

The dev team's enthusiasm for UX changes made all the difference.

Storyboards were placed on a wall where the dev team would frequently walk by, to help keep busy developers in the loop regarding design, and invite their involvement.

Design decisions

Factors that shaped the design direction included:

High-fidelity screens were prepared for prototyping, after wireframe prototypes.

Prototype and Test

Paper prototypes were used for visual grouping of items in various screen layouts. Slideshow storyboards with click-able areas were prepared for scenario walk thru simulation. The right story was carefully prepared to set up the scenario and the mindset of the test subject.

And additional hi-fi click-thru screens for key scenarios were presented later, with dev cheering on, to help get stakeholder final agreement.

High-fidelity prototype screen for a sequential process.

Final Results, lessons learned...

When dev sees that their hard work will be more easily received by users, they see the value in UX design. Dev and UX then both move forward with mutual support.

Dev enthusiasm and volunteering... particular developers would sometimes run with an initial UX suggestion and show me what they could build even before it was designed. One example: When content in a form changes based on user choices, animating a fade and slide rather than a jarring sudden replace.

Positive word spread, and I was ask to clean up the UI for related console app.

And a few more details:

Next project →

© 2018 Richard Emberton