The GENBAND VNF Manager product is a web application with dozens of APIs which transmit and receive information about the user’s (i.e., network service provider’s) virtualized network assets. The sheer volume of data presented across the application required significant planning and information architecting to ensure readable, usable, and consistent data presentation. I worked on this project as the UI/UX Design Lead, from proof-of-concept to commercialization.
The GENBAND VNF Manager allows telecommunications service providers to manage virtualized infrastructure through one central web application. With millions of calls flowing at any given time, there’s a lot of data to represent visually. Developing an effective information architecture (IA) was critical to the product’s commercialization.
Before diving into the complexities of designing an information architecture for big data, it is first important to define user experience. This is especially critical in a “UX-immature” organization, such as the legacy telephonics business unit I worked within.
To those who are not familiar with the User Experience Design discipline, it can be challenging to effectively differentiate this work from that of User Interface Design. However, the ketchup bottle example is brilliant in how it displays such differences.
While it is important to explain the User Experience Design discipline, and how it will impact an organization’s product offerings, it all has to be framed in dollars and cents. Exceptional experiences generate value in the eyes of the user, and this is exactly what the vendor wants to see!
There are virtually infinite ways to display and organize data within a web application, however there’s a finite number of ways to do so effectively and efficiently. A good information architecture combines consistency, findability, and usability.
Without diving into the complexities behind information architecture design, two archetypes (i.e., narrow & deep, and wide & shallow) can easily illustrate how the same data can look so different, even within a similar treemap graphic.
The two extremes (i.e., the archetypes shown previously) were not appropriate for the project. Rather, a “middle ground” of sorts was reached between these two archetypes, balancing findability, usability, and consistency. This treemap provides an effortless view of a telecom’s entire virtualized infrastructure footprint in one colour-coded treemap.
Telecommunications service providers are constantly evolving and reorganizing their networks and infrastructure to provide optimal service to subscribers. This selected information architecture, like all good information architectures, is able to grow with its dataset in a consistent and predictable manner. This means networks, both large and small, can be easily monitored and managed using the GENBAND VNF Manager.