Microsoft Teams Redesign (3/4)

Áine O'Neill
3 min readNov 8, 2020

We defined our problem statement, an actionable statement that “1) condense your perspective on the problem, and 2) provide a metric for success to be used throughout the design thinking process”(Gibbons, 2019). Ours was “to help Tiffany submit homework so that she could manage her learning from home”. Once established, we could proceed with the next phases of design thinking.

Mode Three-Ideate

The ideation phase generates potential solutions to problems outlined in the ‘define’ stage. “Ideation is leveraged to

  • Harness the collective perspectives and strengths of your team.
  • Step beyond obvious solutions and drive innovation.
  • Uncover unexpected areas of exploration.” . (Scott Doorley, 2018)

Mode Four-Prototype

A prototype is a physical design solution that allows teams to discuss, evaluate, test and get feedback quickly and cheaply (low fidelity in our case).

We decided to select a task that could solve our problem statement. The successful completion of the task would prove that we had addressed the issues involved.

Our first approach was to redesign a homepage, because from our observational studies, we found new users were confused about the layout of the app itself. But when we started designing, we found the homepage was a destination rather than a task that could be tested and measured for our purposes, so we decided on a different approach. This ideation was essential for establishing the right solution.

Rough prototype for redesigning homepage

Instead, we looked at submitting an essay, because from our research, we discovered users found this a stressful moment, and needed to feel secure in the process. Considering it’s such an essential aspect of online learning, we felt it needed to be improved. This selected task was better for measuring if we solved our problem statement.

We approached this by each designing and testing a paper prototype for the same task — one that would allow the user to submit an essay. Then we critically evaluated each of our approaches together. We decided on one of the three paper models to bring to a second round of testing, using an agreed script.

Each of our prototypes we critiqued as a group

We thought that the version I had created was easier and less complex than the other two paper versions, and it brought the amount of steps in the original task from fifteen down to seven, which we felt was a considerable improvement. It felt more intuitive, and definitely would allow our user Tiffany to submit her homework confidently.

First Paper Prototype

As we began to prototype, I felt the need to revisit the heuristic analysis. The longer we spent working with Teams, the better my understanding of the application became. As a team we spoke about this, and I felt we were going backwards by returning to research. However, I found that this diagram on iterative development provides a good model of how research constantly feeds back in to development. I’ve realised that you shouldn’t do a block of research and move on to the next step, it should be something that’s constantly being informed with each round of testing.

Iterative Development: The final product is at the center, and the development orbits it, adjusting as it goes along. (Goodman, 2012)

Mode Five-Testing

The final ‘mode’ of design thinking is testing. It is essential to put your prototype into someone else’s hands and start getting feedback on your work.

After one round of testing, I felt I intervened too much, and unintentionally guided the user. In a second round of testing, our group all used the exact same chosen prototype model, so we could then all work from the same script. This definitely helped me in professionally conducting a test like this, which improved a lot the second time.

Link to more testing using same prototype here, and our group mural here.

First user test
Second user test of paper prototype