Introducing the “Welcome Page Creator”
“Hey Ninja! My manager just got me access to this ‘Splunk’ thing and I was able to log in and all but all I see is this screen with a search bar. What the heck is this and where are all the answers? What do I do here?”
After way too many situations teaching newbies about Splunk, I finally took a step back and asked myself: What if when they logged in to Splunk, they were presented with all the materials needed to get Splunking? Not only would they get answers more rapidly, but I’d get a heck of a lot more work done with less distractions.
Attempting to solve this, I created dashboards that “Welcomed” users to the Splunk environment by providing them answers to the questions they were most likely to ask. Each “Welcome” page was the default dashboard within the default app for each role or user group. Since each group’s “Welcome” page was nearly identical, I made my job easier by cloning the first “Welcome” page to all the other apps. From there, the pages were tweaked to be effective for the role or group of users viewing it.
Wanna do the same? Well, you can! That’s because a gang of us (Kevin Meeks, Erick Mechler, Aly Kheraj, and Frank Tisellano) have package up the Welcome Page Creator app. This app gives you a collection of over twenty prebuilt panels that you can piece together to rapidly create Welcome pages.
The most successful Welcome pages have built upon the following best practices:
- KISS: “Keep is Simple Silly”, “Less is more,”, or “A lil’ dab will do ya.” However you want to say it just remember how Google flipped the table on search screens. Less content means a stronger focus by the user and therefore a more effective use of the platform.
- Consider the Audience: The focus and communication style of your developers is dramatically different than that of your business users. Keep this in mind when selecting what panels to include on a Welcome page. Use materials and language that is effective for the reader. In fact, that’s exactly why some of the panels in the ‘Welcome Page Creator’ have similar content but presented differently!
- Apps as Workspaces: Create an app for each “team” using Splunk. This gives that team a place to play and save their knowledge objects without getting in the way of other teams. In fact, I’m confident you’ll find your users are more willing to embrace and explore Splunk if their experience is intimately contained within their group’s workspace rather than effecting an entire deployment.
- Role Segregation: When each team has their own role you have the ability to segregate their workspaces and provide the ‘Welcome’ page that is most effective to them. Take it a step further and change the permissions on other team’s apps so users only see the workspace (app) for them – not other’s group’s apps.
- Set Defaults: Don’t forget to set the respective app as the default app within the role definition as well as the Welcome page as the default dashboard. This ensures that when users log in to the environment, they’ll automatically head to their workspace and its Welcome page.
- Listen: Even after implementing Welcome pages, you’re still going to notice some questions come your way. Put the answers to such repeated questions in a new panel on your Welcome page so you can get back to the fun stuff. When necessary, edit any shared prebuilt panel or convert any panel to an inline panel so you can further customer for that audience.
- Not a Welcome App but a Welcome Page: Welcome pages within a team’s app is powerful. A Welcome page within the Welcome Page Creator app is confusing. The Welcome Page Creator app is deliberately focused on creating Welcome pages and therefore is not intended as a place for starting a Splunk experience. The Welcome Page Creator’s panels are globally shared so your end users can continue to work within their workspace (app).
- Hide the Welcome Page Creator App: Extraneous apps can distract your users – especially if they stumble over to the Launcher. Therefore, you might prefer to hide the Welcome Page Creator app. This means the Welcome App Creator’s prebuilt panels will still work on any dashboard but the Welcome Page Creator app itself won’t distract your users. To do this, browse to https://<your_splunk_env>/manager/system/apps/local/welcome?action=edit OR navigate to Apps -> Manage Apps -> ‘Edit properties’ for the ‘welcome’ entry. Then select the “No” radio button for “Visible”.
That’s it! Have fun creating Welcome pages and use your new found free time by letting us know about panels you create or think we should add to the Welcome Page Creator app.