Good navigation and quick access to features are vital for the success of any web application. On the Internet, browsing is the primary navigation method on most sites, but as content grows it can become quite difficult to solve UX (user experience) challenges with a structured navigation alone.
Creators and designers – whether of websites or other software user interfaces – often underestimate the power of the search box. As searching is becoming more and more prominent, people increasingly use internal site search. In the age of Google, when even small children know how to use search engines, such behavior is to be expected.
Studies have shown that users often start by browsing, but once they know what they are looking for they prefer to use search. That is why a search-based navigation plays such an important role in the user interface of our web-based SmartMonitor application. It allows users to quickly access all pages by typing just a few keystrokes.
A particular highlight is the search filter. Applied in real-time, it suggests to the user a selection of matches, while he’s typing. This is the same concept as Google uses to display search suggestions while typing a search query.
In the SmartMonitor user interface, this search pattern is applicable in a number of places. For example, when building a test campaign the user quickly finds available test types via a search box. The same applies to filtering values by title or group name when selecting the network values to be monitored.
Native app experience
Traditionally, web apps lacked the feel of responsiveness and interactivity of desktop or native apps. Often these apps had to be refreshed manually in order to update state changes or other information.
The recently coined term Progressive Web Apps refers to more user-friendly web applications and can be best summarized as:
“A Progressive Web App uses modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like user experience.”
(Progressive Web Apps by Google Developers)
Precisely what the SmartMonitor does: it delivers this kind of native app experience; for instance, by incorporating real-time elements via server push technologies that also operate through corporate firewalls and proxies. This allows unit state changes to be immediately reflected in the browser without any user interaction, giving the user the impression of using a desktop system.
Also, the unique Live Monitoring feature allows continuous observation of unit positions, test results, and network parameters (with refresh rates of up to 250 milliseconds), while Alarming instantly notifies the user of specific changes in the network.
Improved user experience
Equally important for a native app experience is to remember the last UI (user interface) state, something that has been frequently neglected by web apps. To illustrate this with an example: a user navigates away from a tabbed page after having selected a specific tab. Later, the user returns to the tabbed page, possibly even after having logged out. What the user can (and maybe will) expect to see is the first tab selected, since this usually is the case of web apps that don’t persist their UI state. Instead, the user should automatically be shown the last selected tab, so that he can continue to work where left off.
Of course it takes time to implement such features across a web app. Since their benefits don’t have a direct impact on a product’s main functionality, these aspects of improved user experience are often looked upon as unimportant and time-consuming. But, it’s precisely those small details that make the SmartMonitor not only more enjoyable and effective, but also the best monitoring solution on the market.