Azure SQL Database Resources & Pricing


Create an intuitive way for customers to allocate resources within SQL database

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 an old Azure model of using cards for database sizes. This model confused customers and made it difficult for them to mentally parse how much they would need to scale up or down. It also seemed to prevent a connection point from one level to the next.

Here is a view of the old experience for selecting a pricing tier:

I had also worked on another product called SQL data warehouse that had dealt with this issue before. So, I did some customer analysis to find out what customers had enjoyed from both experiences and planned out how we would design a future level view for overall SQL adoption.

From this research my UX PM and I began planning efforts to reformat the overall pricing experience to help customers more intuitively understand what is going on within their database as well as the feeling of simply scaling up or down depending their business and workload needs. Making customers feel more in control with their resource.

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 met our goals and the need for simplicity and consistency, I led efforts with the PM and engineering team to really fine tune how we communicated our message and flow.

The design focused around a few key concepts, the tier and the customization. The Tier was the area where a customer decided their overall storage and type of database, it is a place where they say “I just want a normal db to run a website” or “I need to run high demand workloads for an app”. After the tier they begin to choose the amount of resources they would like within that perspective. This way of viewing pricing was new to azure and created a much more user friendly mindset.

Along with all this design work we had to get buy in from our Azure framework team. I led these meetings and helped to drive the adoption. The overall UX was met very positively and began to be broadcast to other teams that wanted to move away from the Azure cards and into a more control centric system.

Below is a screen of what this looked like:


SQL databases new pricing experience launched in the spring of 2017. From the get go we saw an increase in customers manipulating their database levels as well as feedback on how much they truly enjoyed the new experience. Also this design has been integrated into several other products within Azure, as a new way for them to handle “tiers” and customizations.

I am currently leading a new initiative to further update the experience, unfortunately that will have to wait to be shown until it has GA’d.

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