Paper Prototyping and Evaluation: The Value of User Research (3/4)
This blog is the third of four posts of an academic group project. The goal of the project is to iteratively redesign and evaluate a paper prototype for a specific task in Microsoft Teams. In this blog, we will be looking at the indispensable value of User Research.
If you haven’t read the first and second post yet, you can do so through the following links:
Our team was finally able to get a hold of two participants for our user research. We cannot stress enough the value of user research as we cannot design a great user experience without our target users or their needs (Seewald 2015).
The two participants are lecturers who happen to use Microsoft Teams in their online classes. We discovered that most of our assumptions are not consistent with the findings in our interviews with the participants.
Assumptions VS Findings from user research
In the findings above, we see that we were wrong about our hypothesis that Microsoft Teams does not have a call scheduling feature.
- Microsoft Teams does not have a scheduling feature. We verified this using Microsoft Teams for Students.
- A pain point of the user is scheduling meetings.
- A pain point is of the user is typing student names manually on the invitation form.
Findings from user research
- The Microsoft Teams version our participants were using had a scheduling feature. It was available for their roles.
- A pain point the participant shared was presenting while interacting with their students.
- A pain point the participants shared was sending students out to their breakout rooms.
In the findings above, we see that we were wrong about our hypothesis that Microsoft Teams does not have a call scheduling feature. We were also wrong about our initial hypothesis of the users’ pain points.
Changing our direction of what problem to solve, we focused on the second finding — the pain point of presenting while interacting with their students. We probed our participants further on that area and discovered the following details:
- There are issues of presenters not seeing themselves during presentations
- Presenting a deck without the option to see the audience is frustrating
- There is poor visibility of what was being shared (and from where)
- There is a need for options to customise or personalise the presentation layout
From this information, we updated our Proto Persona and Customer Journey Map accordingly. We saw the need to do a new task analysis and Heuristic evaluation as well since we are now solving a different problem. (Details of the second task analysis and Heuristic evaluation are documented in the first post).
With the new findings, we concluded our user need statement and problem identification.
User Need Statement: Microsoft Teams Users would like more options when presenting. They need to be able to customise their own presentation view to their own liking.
Problem Statement: Microsoft Teams users are limited when it comes to presentation options forcing them to use external workarounds; hence, causing an overall bad user experience.
Further Research: Competitor analysis and Microsoft Teams deep dive
A number of tools similar with Microsoft Teams are also available (e.g Zoom and Slack). We did a quick Competitor Analysis with these other tools. While we have the opportunity to redesign the whole presentation experience of Microsoft Teams, we did not want to reinvent the wheel especially if there are already existing good solutions. We also looked at other versions of Microsoft Teams and how they are currently handling presentations in online calls and we discovered some interesting user interface treatments. Then, we incorporated our findings in our paper prototyping which will be discussed in detail in the next post.
Reflections in conducting user research
It may seem like a set back seeing that our assumptions are mostly wrong. However, we were still in the initial stages of the project. The early stage is the best stage to be making mistakes rather than developing the solution and realising our mistakes only after then. The findings were insightful and eye-opening and we were glad that we now have a more reliable data.