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From Dashboard to HUD: How JASK reimagined the security analyst user experience

From Dashboard to HUD: How JASK reimagined the security analyst user experience

Harlan Elam

May 28, 2019 · 8 min read

There’s a growing problem within the information security industry and I’m willing to bet it’s not what you’re thinking. You may remember reading about a recent data breach that included compromised personal information. Foreign influence and disinformation campaigns on social media are trending topics in the current political climate. You may not have realized, however, that companies are struggling to keep networks and private data safe from attackers because of a concerning shortage of analyst talent.

With so much at stake we ’ ve been laser focused on figuring out how to enable companies to hire and retain analysts. Over the last seven months we’ve made some major changes to our user interface (UI). We updated the colors, typography, layout, and added features to improve usability and make data points relevant to a broader set of users.

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Our goal was to deliver an incredibly functional and intuitive experience enabling analysts with zero experience to jump right in and start crushing bad guys from day one. After a thorough analysis of current market offerings, user interviews and long internal discussions, it was clear we had to take a radically different approach to the design of our application.

This is the reason the reason I left Blizzard Entertainment after four years of designing web and mobile experiences for World of Warcraft and Diablo 3. I saw a tremendous opportunity to innovate in an industry where the majority of incumbent security applications look and act the same.

Analysts have been strapped with bloated UIs and meaningless dashboards while threat hunting had evolved into a tedious, challenging beast. It was time to break the cycle and focus on the user. By doing so we could reverse the trend of cyber security companies releasing feature rich products that require months of training and lack anything remotely close to a delightful UI.

The current JASK customers we interviewed were excited for this update to roll out, so we feel confident in its execution and are excited to share high-level insight into why we made the changes we did, the process we took to get there and the lessons we learned along the way.

Interview. Sketch. Prototype. Repeat.

A significant amount of time was invested talking to analysts in order to understand how we could improve the app and validate this new direction we theorized they would love. Artifacts from these interviews included ideas for improved user flow from login to insight resolution, reorganized navigation with labels and the adoption of a new general design philosophy that said: “obvious always wins.”

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By leveraging user interview data and learnings from previous iterations of the app, we started brainstorming and focused on building a new set of design requirements. This ultimately informed one of the more exciting aspects of this process: sketching!

After all of the talking, research and analysis, it was time to get our hands dirty with pen and paper. We sketched like madmen and produced an untold number of variations for the Heads Up Display (HUD). As the cornerstone of our UI and basecamp of security operations for analysts, it was paramount that we get it right. Our sketches became the new foundation for what you see today in the app and allowed us to quickly iterate and evolve the design in a short amount of time.

When the team felt confident in the user flow on paper, we moved on to prototyping the redesign using Sketch and Invision. At this point, we started meeting regularly with internal partners from spec ops, sales, customer success and marketing to gain alignment on the direction we were headed. This was going to be a massive change for our analysts, so we needed to partner with everyone to ensure we were all on the same page moving forward.

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