Microsoft Teams Redesign(4/4)

Áine O'Neill
3 min readNov 9, 2020

Over the course of these blog posts, I have outlined how we used Stanfords Design School ‘modes’ of design thinking (Scott Doorley, 2018) to guide our creative process through improving an element of Microsoft Teams. Iteration happened across all five stages, and each new piece of information gathered informed subsequent work. These modes made up the core of our design process.

Planning and management

Working as a team completely online took some getting used to, but by the time the presentation came around, we had hit our collaborative stride. We scheduled regular meetings, and I took the role of unofficial administrator- it was always my priority to maximise our time together as a team and work out our goals each week. You can see a plan I made for organising our presentation here, an example of this.

We divided up tasks evenly, and used Mural, Miro and Teams to share work; three softwares new to each of us, but definitely worth expanding our tool kit for. We found there was some doubling up of work, but it allowed us to analyse each others work, using the knowledge we’ve gained over the past few weeks. As the weeks progressed it became really enjoyable to work as a group, despite our very different backgrounds, ages and experience levels.

Team Howth in their element

Reflection of final prototype

When designing our prototype, I paid particular attention to other apps like Instagram and Messenger, who organise a large amount of locations and material very clearly. Using visual cues from these pre-existing apps fed into the heuristic of ‘match between system and real world’ (Nielsen, 1994). As a result, our prototype is simple, clear, and intuitive to use.

The prototype is limited. Because it was made of paper, it only had one clear route of completion through it, so I think it would be helpful to bulk out other similar functions, or possibly have tested a second task using it. In the second round of testing, we made copies of the best prototype so we were all on the same page again, and could find these small issues to be improved. This week we plan on tackling these design flaws to make the process as seamless as possible, and hopefully exploring the prototype more fully.

I’m confident that the paper prototype we are developing is moving in the right direction. I found the prototyping process incredibly beneficial from an efficiency perspective. The people we tested it on were definitely not afraid to give feedback. The lack of sophistication and roughness that is unavoidable with paper models added to this, and is also part of the charm!

Personally the lack of people to physically test on was something I found difficult, but was circumstantial to this project, and shouldn’t be an issue in future. I look forward to testing prototypes on a more targeted selection of users in the future.

Stages and Artefacts

It is important to note that the different artefacts created often fit under two or modes of design. Each item created informed the overall project. We iterated throughout the process, particularly when we had to figure out solutions to issues with the prototype.

Empathy- Heuristic evaluation, usability test, empathy maps,

Define-Competitor analysis, customer journey map, personas, usability test, user needs statement

Ideate-User needs statement

Prototype- Paper prototypes one and two

Test- I conducted two separate tests on one prototype, and our group also did the same.

Overall I found the flexible workflow interesting, and our group bonded really well by the time we made our presentation. If you have any questions about the process or project please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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