Improving the hybrid working experience.

Improving the hybrid working experience.

Miro is an online collaborative whiteboarding platform that helps bring teams together to collaborate remotely or in person. As part of an immersive UX/UI bootcamp that I completed, I was tasked with iterating on the current whiteboard experience for teams.

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Lead UX Researcher at Miro, Eduardo Gomez Ruiz, supplied a thorough brief defining the main problem space to try to solve. The main project scope was to conduct user research and propose a conceptual idea for how the app could evolve in order to maintain its relevance in the current global climate after people return to their offices, the main consideration being how hybrid workshops might be facilitated to provide a better and more engaging experience to both facilitators and participants.

ROLE

User Research
Product Strategy
UX Design
UI Design
Prototyping
Usability testing

TOOLS

Miro
Typeform
Figma
Maze

TIMELINE

5 Weeks

The Problem

Following my initial research which took the shape of a usability review of the app and user interviews, it became apparent that one of the main problems experienced when collaborating remotely, were limited methods of communication during meetings, and a lack of connection to the team. The current experience is a little limited when it comes to defining different team types and the methods available to communicate while collaborating.

Hypothesis

We believe that giving users improved means of communicating with their teammates when using the platform [ would help users collaborate better and feel more engaged ], thus [ resulting in increased satisfaction, connection, and overall adoption of the platform. ]

[ ] User goal [ ] Business goal

The Solution

My solution focussed on how information was being communicated both during and after any whiteboard session.

Feedback gained from my user interviews showed users found it difficult to follow the flow of sessions and that communication methods were a little limited. To address this, I iterated on the commenting tool found within the tool panel so that as well as being able to add written comments, users would also be able to leave both voice and video comments too.

Whilst this addressed communication during whiteboard sessions I didn't want context to then be lost post-session. The dashboard experience provided limited information on files and the teams working on them, so I attempted to address this by providing more information for each file. I reorganised boards, teams and templates under a single area of the navigation and added information to files, letting users know when it was last edited, its contributors and the board type.

Dashboard

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Board creation modal

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Voice and video commenting modals

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The Outcome

When considering that it's estimated approximately 70% of inter-personal communication is non-verbal and that the feeling of connection between people is of increasing importance to ensure staff do not feel isolated during remote work in the current global climate, my proposed solution attempted to address this growing need to stay connected and communicate in a range of ways, thus helping Miro to stay relevant as these changes in working practices become more established.

What next…

Within the scope of the bootcamp when this case study was worked on, it was not possible to fully validate my solution. To continue to further develop this concept, my next steps would be to create a high fidelity prototype with the goal of gathering feedback and validating my solution via an unmoderated or moderated usability test.

The full process

Initial observations

Usability review

The starting point of my research was to carry out a usability review. This was done on two screens within Miro, the dashboard and the on-canvas screen once a board is created, for comparison a usability review was also carried out in Figjam, which is Figma's whiteboard tool and a competitor to the space Miro occupies.

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Questions & Observations

To help define the problems I identified during my usability review, I formed a series of questions and observations about the app. I followed the structure [situation], [response], [problem to business or experience] to ensure both users and business needs were being considered in my approach.

When [participating in hybrid virtual group work], users [unconsciously prioritise the opinions of those in the room with them], which causes [remote team members to feel like they are disconnected and not listened to]

When [working remotely as a team], users [lack a means of non verbal communication], which causes [a lack of human connection and miscommunication with colleagues].

When [whiteboarding as a team remotely], users [don't know where their focus their attention], which causes [a lack of comprehension and difficulty contributing during meetings].

Research

I validated my initial observations so that I could be confident when forming my hypothesis that it was being based upon data. To do this I created an interview script and carried out interviews with representative users of the app to ascertain what the core challenges users faced were when using the software and while working remotely.

Interview goal

How do hybrid remote workers feel when collaborating in Miro and what do they feel are the biggest challenges with working with a mix of office and remote workers?

Interview script

1️⃣
User interview scriptScene setting for interviewWelcome
  • Thanks for helping out today.
  • I plan on this session running for no longer than approximately 30-45 minutes.
  • Before we start, I’ll briefly explain the setup and how the session works.

What we’re doing today

  • I’m conducting some user research on how teams manage collaboration when functioning as a fully remote team or combination of both remote and office based workers and specifically the use of online whiteboard software.
  • I’m trying to identify any common issues with this process and what might be improved about the experience for teams conducting things like remote workshops etc.
  • I'll be talking to a few people like yourself, and based on your feedback I'm hoping to pinpoint areas to focus on improving in this type of software.

The process

  • I’ll be asking you a range of questions about your experience of remote work and using whiteboard software in your job.
  • The session will be recorded so that I can refer back to what we discuss and I'll be using Otter which is software which provides an automatic transcript of the interview for me to reference as well.
  • Do you have any questions now before we begin?

Fact finding

  • What is your occupation/job title?
  • Where are you based for your job currently?
  • Has that always been the case?
  • Do you work on a laptop or desktop and does that vary depending on location?
  • What software do you use to help facilitate remote working?
  • Which white boarding software do you prefer to use?
  • How frequently do you use it?
  • What are your main use cases for whiteboard software?
  • How do you use it within a team?
  • Is there any similar software which you use?

Opinion

  • What has your experience of white boarding been remotely, positive or negative?
  • What made it positive or negative?
  • Is there anything which makes a specific bit of software stand out?
  • What are your biggest challenges when working as either a completely remote or partially remote team?
  • Do you think remote work is easier or harder to facilitate than office based work?
  • If it's easier or harder, why is that do you think?
  • What would your ideal team setup be under normal circumstances?
  • How do you manage your team and yourself feeling isolated when working remotely?
  • How does this affect yours and your teams moral and effectiveness?

Open ended

  • Can you describe a specific scenario of when you last used whiteboard software as a team?
  • What was the scenario?
  • What challenges if any did you have?
  • Was there anything which would have made things easier to collaborate with your team
  • How did you manage the mix of remote and office workers if that’s been the case?
  • What would help you the most when running things like workshops or collaborating using digital whiteboard software if you could add or change anything about the experience?

Synthesis

I used Otter.ai annotation software to automatically create a transcript of my user interviews that I then used to make notes of key insights and observations the interviewees made during our chat. I then organised these notes into an affinity map clustering my findings to identify any patterns or trends that would help me form my hypothesis.

Affinity map

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Customer Journey Map

Once the data from my user interviews had been organised into meaningful groups via my affinity map, I combined this with the observations from my usability review to create a customer journey map and defined points in the user journey that would likely provide the most opportunity for improvement of the app. The main areas I identified from this were the board creation phase of the customer journey and the collaboration stage once the board had been created.

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User Flow

To further understand the problem I was working with, I created a user flow to understand the current flow the user took when creating a new collaborative whiteboard within the app. This helped to clarify where the improvements and simplifications could be made to reduce friction for the user.

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Validated observations

The patterns and trends I identified in my affinity map and customer journey map helped to validate my earlier observations regarding users' main frustrations. I took an iterative approach to resolving problems I'd identified by prioritising user frustrations, making sure I focussed on one primary frustration which I selected on the basis of what I felt would provide the greatest user and business gains.

Primary Frustration

When [whiteboarding as a team remotely], users [don't know where their focus their attention], which causes [a lack of comprehension and difficulty contributing during meetings].

Secondary Frustrations

When [working remotely as a team], users [lack a means of non verbal communication], which causes [a lack of human connection and miscommunication with colleagues ]

When [participating in hybrid virtual group work], users [unconsciously prioritise the opinions of those in the room with them], which causes [remote team members to feel like they are disconnected and not listened to]

How Might We

Following on from the synthesis of my research and defining what I felt was the primary user frustration, I then moved on to ideating on the problem, forming a how might we statement to begin working towards a solution.

How might we… help remote teams better communicate with their colleagues when collaborating so they feel more connected.

Ideation

To generate a range of potential ideas to progress with I used the SCAMPER method for idea generation. This allowed me to build on what was already present in the app by asking what within the app could be substituted, combined, adapted, modified, put to another use, or reversed.

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Hypothesis

Having prioritised ideas using the S.C.A.M.P.E.R ideation method, I wrote a hypothesis helping me to frame the problem for both user and business goals.

We believe that [giving users improved means of communicating with their teammates when using the platform [ would help users collaborate better and feel more engaged ], thus [ result in increased satisfaction, connection, and overall adoption of the platform.] [ ] User goal [ ] Business goal

The Solution

My solution focussed on how information was being communicated both during and after any whiteboard session.

Feedback gained from my user interviews showed users found it difficult to follow the flow of sessions and that communication methods were a little limited. To address this, I iterated on the commenting tool found within the tool panel so that as well as being able to add written comments, users would also be able to leave both voice and video comments too.

Whilst this addressed communication during whiteboard sessions I didn't want context to then be lost post-session. The dashboard experience provided limited information on files and the teams working on them, so I attempted to address this by providing more information for each file. I reorganised boards, teams and templates under a single area of the navigation and added information to files, letting users know when it was last edited, its contributors and the board type.

Dashboard

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Board creation modal

image

Voice and video commenting modals

image

The Outcome

When considering that it's estimated approximately 70% of inter-personal communication is non-verbal and that the feeling of connection between people is of increasing importance to ensure staff do not feel isolated during remote work in the current global climate, my proposed solution attempted to address this growing need to stay connected and communicate in a range of ways, thus helping Miro to stay relevant as these changes in working practices become more established.

What next…

Within the scope of the bootcamp when this case study was worked on, it was not possible to fully validate my solution. To continue to further develop this concept, my next steps would be to create a high fidelity prototype with the goal of gathering feedback and validating my solution via an unmoderated or moderated usability test.