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Microsoft focuses on user experience with Azure portal updates

Updates to the portal home, service cards, service and instance browsing and more

Microsoft has added 10 new updates to its Azure portal in an effort to improve user experience on the platform.

Partner group program manager of Azure portal, Leon Welicki, said in a blog post that the updates are part of the company's goal to make Azure “a productive and easy-to-use single-pane-of glass”.

The new updates include:

1. The portal home

The portal home has been split into two sections – services and resources, which changes dynamically based on the user’s usage of the platform, and then the static common entry points and useful information, which stay the same to allow users to build muscle memory for commonly-used functions.

The left navigation bar has also been hid in a menu button located in the top navigation bar.

Welicki said this change was made to improve user focus.

“Before this change, when you were immersed in a workload in the portal you always had two vertical menus side by side, the left navigation bar and the menu for the experience," Welicki said. “The left navigation bar is still available with all its functionality, including favourites, through the menu button at the top bar, always only one click away.”

2. Service cards

Hover cards associated with each service that reveals contextual information have been added, allowing users to access common workflows, and can be shown after a user places their cursor over a service title for approximately a second.

Contextual information and actions shown include instance creation and browsing Microsoft Learn content for the specific service, key document linking and showing free offerings when available.

“The cards help improve on multiple aspects including more efficient customer journeys, better discoverability, and contextualised information, all presented in the context of one service,” Welicki said.

“The card also helps customers of all levels of expertise: While new customers can benefit from Microsoft Learn content and free offerings advanced customers have a faster path the create instances or access their recently used instances of that service.”

3. Microsoft Learn integration

Through the portal update, Microsoft Learn sees added integration, such as contextual integration at the service category level for service browsing and at the service level for service cards.

Some of the more popular trainings have also been added to the Azure QuickStart centre and Azure home will have direct access to the main Microsoft Learn entry point.

4. Service browsing

Global searching and the service browsing experienced have both been improved when searching for services in the portal’s top bar global search box and the All services through an overview category allowing for the progressive disclosure of services, respectively.

An Overview category has also been added, showing a list of the top 15 Azure services based on popularity, curating content from Microsoft Learn, as well as having access to Azure QuickStart, free offerings and other key functions.

5. Instance browsing

As Welicki noted that one of the most common entry points for portal users is the resource instance browsing experience, added functionality to this has included the utilisation of Azure Resource Graph to allow for performance improvement, filtering, sorting and grouping options and CSV file exporting.

6. Azure Resource Graphs

Updates to the Azure Resource Graph Explorer allow for Azure Resource Graph Queries, which allow for any Kusto Query Language (KQL) query to be saved as a resource.

7. Automatic refreshing

Azure dashboards can now be automatically refreshed over several time intervals.

8. Service icons

Icons in the Azure portal have been given a new coat of paint to give them “a more consistent and modern look,” Welicki said.

“All these icons have been designed together as a family to provide better visual consistency and reduce distractions,” he added.

9. Settings panel

The settings panel has been “simplified”, as Welicki claimed users could not find the “Language & region” settings in the last iteration of the portal, and as a result Microsoft were receiving requests that already existed.

“The portal supports 18 languages and dozens of regional formats, which was a common source of confusion for many of our users,” he said,

This has meant the general settings and the Language & region settings have been separated.

10. Landing page for Azure smartphone application

An updated and customisable home screen has been added for both iOS and Android apps, which includes multiple cards with support for Azure services, recent resources, latest alerts, service health, resource groups and favourites.