Azure SQL Database Overview Experience


Optimize the performance and layout of a SQL database instance within Azure

My Role

I was the only designer and UX lead for this project. I worked with a researcher, PM, and engineering teams to create a portal experience for customers within Azure.


Design Research, Program Management, Engineering


Initial research and planning

Leveraging some prior usability studies and outreach programs we found a major customer pain point with discovering features within a SQL resource. We also knew that the current layout and design of a database had performance related problems, this was linked to its longer than necessary load times.

From this research, my UX PM and I led efforts to reformat the overview experience to help customers more intuitively understand what is going on within their database as well as finding key features that could improve the performance and security of their instance.

With our research and direction, I created “UX goals/principles” that I believe we hit extremely well with our update.

UX goals:

  • Customers know the health of their resource
  • Customers know where to go to troubleshoot a problem
  • Overview blade loads in under 2 seconds
  • Customers can find features and know if they are turned on or off

Wires and iterations

The next stage after mapping out the flows and understanding the problem space was to start creating mocks of the screens. While ensuring we meet our goals and the need for simplicity, I led efforts with the PM and engineering team to really fine tune how we communicated our message and flow.

Below you will see how the design finalized. This was dealing with engineering and Azure framework constraints while also pushing the boundaries and creating a new overall pattern for partners to consume.

It is also worth nothing that during this time I also employed an usability study to ensure there were no major UI drops or pains in the experience. We have also been setting up ways for us to stay in touch with customers as it is out, that way we are able to iterate on this experience as time goes on.


SQL databases new overview experience launched in the fall of 2017. We have seen a decrease in customer complaints around performance and an increase in navigation/discoverability of features. Along with this we have planned the extension of this design and concept to other products/services. So it will begin to be seen throughout the Azure family.

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