Self Service Alerting


Aperture is a data analytics tool that helps analysts collection open-source data to perform trend and pattern analysis on topics of interest. This data is used to find critical information and address concerns before they become serious issues. Aperture ingests a lot of data, and urgent documents could go undiscovered for some time.

The existing alerts feature requires is limited to categorization terms and sends an email per alert. Customizable alerts and notification settings are a must-have feature to meet the business goal of making Aperture a self-service tool.


  • Users have little control over when & how to be notified of important processed data.
  • Users are limited to only alerting on categorization terms.
  • Users cannot create alerts with saved searches.
  • Users are limited to a single email per alert.

Assumed Use Cases

  • People who only want to see the alert.
  • People who want to go into Aperture to do work.
  • People who want to take these messages and bring them into a different tool.


I interviewed internal sales, financial, and analyst users to learn how their work would benefit from alerts.

  1. What are your goals when creating an alert?
    • How often would you create, edit, or remove alerts?
  2. What are the pros and cons of the current implementation of alerts?
  3. How would you use saved searches to create alerts?
  4. Would you share your alerts with your team?
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The insights from the user interviews helped create an affinity map and validate our assumed issues.

In the financial services context […] they might be looking for a topic in the news that is a catalyst for stock prices to change.

Strategy & Action

The analysts know what information they need for their work and create complex search queries to focus their search. Alerts based on search queries would be a more efficient way to pinpoint that data, and would seamlessly integrate with existing workflows.

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Interview Takeaways:

  • Immediate alerts are a priority.

  • Alert “digests” to reduce inbox clutter.

  • In-app and text message alerts for coverage.

I built flows to visualize Apertures workflows, show entry points for alerts, and plan the alerting feature.

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Potential Alert Paths

  1. User creates a new search query and adds an alert.
  2. User creates a new search query, saves the search, and adds an alert.
  3. User adds an alert to an existing saved search.
  4. Manage Alerts.

I presented this flow to the stakeholders to get clarification about how search queries would be used to create alerts. Was it necessary to add alerts to both searches and saved searches? If so, what was the difference?

The analysts know what results they’re looking for when they begin their work and spend time crafting queries to get there. They only save their search queries when Aperture starts displaying valuable returns. They could not see a reason for getting alerts before they are happy with the search query itself.

This emphasizes that a document is only worth getting an alert about once the search is creating valuable returns.

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Analysts familiar with Aperture would easily find this feature, and untrained analysts could get in the habit of building robust queries.

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This flow displays what alerts need at each step and gave the developers a chance to ask questions and catch edge-cases early on. I presented this flow to review:

  1. Creating alerts from saved search queries

  2. Real-time alerts

  3. Alert digests

Moving to designs only required a few updates to Aperture:

  • The “save search” modal has an “add alert” button that navigates to the “Add Alert” flow.

  • The saved search dropdown shows a bell icon next to Saved Searches with alerts.

  • Created a Manage Alerts page to give users a way to edit or remove alerts.


I tested an alerts prototype with five users.


  • The manage alerts page failed with 3 of 5 users.

    • This page implied that alerts had the same importance as searches.

    • Alerts are a feature of saved searches; not a standalone feature.

  • Users wanted to add multiple alerts per saved search.

    • The same alert for could be sent to multiple user groups.

    • E.g. “I want this alert immediately and sent to my manager in a weekly digest .”

Updates after testing:

  • Changed the hierarchy to clarify that Saved Searches can have Alerts:

    • Removed “Managed Alerts” and moved the alert icon and notification information to “Manage Searches.”

  • Updated the save search design to allow for multiple alerts.

  • Updated the email address design to clarify multiple emails are permitted.

  • Changed “Real-time” label to “Near Real-time” to reflect the document processing time.

Next Steps

  1. Create a findings presentation.

  2. Discuss text messaging and in-app alerts with the business and product teams.

  3. Gather usage information from clients to inform v2 updates.