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Shaley’s UX Writing and Content Design Portfolio

Titles, User Flow, and Form Fields for a Service Alert System


* The university name where this project took place is hidden in these examples. On my resume, look for the following role: 08/2007 – 09/2016, UX Writer and Content Designer

The Challenge

This university IT organization manages more than 100 services, including many that live behind the scenes, such as servers, networks, and web hosting. In the past, service managers had communicated about issues and outages on a best-judgement basis. Some managers immediately notified users about issues, and others hoped that nobody would notice as they worked on the problem.

This kind of ad-hoc communications was highly problematic from a customer service standpoint, since there was no central place for people to check if a service appeared to be having issues.

The Solution

Our customers wanted answers. We needed a page where people could check the status of any service. First, because we managed so many services (everything from phones to networks and software), we needed to figure out buckets to organize the page, so that people could find things easily.

After assessing outage and change management details from the previous year, our team agreed on the following alert-type titles:

  • Unplanned Outages
  • Emergency Maintenance
  • Performance Issues
  • Security Alerts
  • Scheduled Service Changes

Location, Location, Location

Initially, service owners who weren’t used to publicly reporting on issues were extremely hesitant to post information at the university IT website. They asked that the details not be front and center on the homepage. This meant that the only way to see alerts was by clicking “Support.”


As my team expected, this wasn’t good enough for our customers who wanted to easily find service status information on the homepage. Within a short time, we added the “IT Service Alerts” block to our homepage. As long as everything was running smoothly, it would display the notice “There are no reported problems at this time.



The alerts for up to two issues could be displayed at a time, with the title linked to see details, or an option to “View all alerts” to see a full list.



The Flow Still Works on the Redesigned Website

It has been 10 years since I developed the original “IT Service Alerts,” described above. Over the years, we changed the main title on the homepage from “Current Status of IT Services” to “IT Service Alerts” to simplify, but the alert-type titles have continued to work well for the community (Unplanned Outages, Emergency Maintenance, etc.).

When we updated the IT website to a fully new design, one of the few user experiences that we brought over, identical to the original, was the “IT Service Alerts” page flow. A decade later, the system is still successfully serving its purpose — keeping our community informed about service changes and issues.


How Alerts Were Posted

I conducted two focus groups to collect service-manager feedback, then worked with our developer team to create a service-alert form that could be submitted as soon as something came up. This allowed service managers to display alerts on the homepage with a link to full details, 24/7, without intervention from the Communications Office (who managed website content).

My team wanted to standardize the alert submission form, but some service managers had preferences that differed. For example, the IT Security Office often posted general awareness alerts. They would not use all of the details required for scheduled service changes.

As a result, I worked with our developer to show form fields depending on the type of alert selected. For example, when a manager selected “Scheduled Service Change,” they were presented with these fields:

  • Title
  • Change Date
  • Change Time
  • Expected Duration
  • Status (Open or Closed)
  • Brief Description
  • User Impact
  • Services Affected
  • Subsites Affected
  • Full Description
  • Timeline

To be displayed on the website as follows:


And when “Security Alert” was selected, they were presented with the following:

  • Title
  • Date
  • Status (Open or Closed)
  • Brief Description
  • Services Affected
  • Full Description

To be displayed on the website as follows:

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