Project

Categories

User research, Research synthesis,

UX design, Prototyping, User test,

UI design

 Overview

Creating a chat and audio-based meeting platform that provides introverts with space to

freely express their ideas.

 

 Challenge

When talking about innovation, we usually think about group collaboration. Most workplace teams have a mix of introverts and extroverts who must collaborate to reach common goals. Introverts prefer a lower-stimulation environment to think and be productive, but the high-stimulation of group collaboration in the workspace is often upsetting to introverts. Many of the aspects of a collaborative process do not come as easy for introverts. Because of this, the group may lose the introvert’s voice—an opportunity lost, especially in a meeting where everyone’s voice is crucial to the growth and development of the project at hand. 

 

 Process                 Context     Research     Ideation     Prototype     Test & Iteration     Design

 

01

Introduction

& Background

Context

 

In Susan Cain’s book Quiet, she points out the introverts’ creative advantage in preferring to work independently, as solitude can be a catalyst to innovation. But there is no denying that we may have a limited way of thinking and need others ideas for inspiration.

But society is built for extroverts, which is its central group. Now, society is structured in ways that can be difficult for introverts to adjust to. In the business world, open office settings and group brainstorming meetings are the norms. These design structures directly benefit extroverts, and consequently, it leaves the one-fifth of the US population that are introverts out and creates a struggle for them to keep up with standards that are almost impossible to thrive in. 

 

02

Research

Subjective matter expert interviews

 

To better understand the landscape of my inquiry, I talked with live coaches, founders of websites for introverts, psychologists, educators, workspace anthropologists and also, introverts.

 

After the interviews, some quotes from interviewers testified my previous research.

“I really didn't enjoy the office environment and it took me a good two years to figure out why that might be…I've been exploring ever since how can I make my environment and the way I work, I live, as conducive as possible.”

                                                               Cat Rose, Founder of The Creative Introverts

“It's essential for the workspace design of communal spaces to benefit both introverts and extroverts.”

Elizabeth Wallace, Operations Manager for Real Estate Professional Services

 

Productivity and Creativity

Group meetings or group discussions are a common form when it comes to creativity. But usually, the structure of a meeting causes us to leave very little space for deep thoughts, focus, and a workspace where you can't be interrupted. These things are important, as solitude is a crucial ingredient of creativity, but they're missing in an open-office plan. When creativity is the highest priority, people should be encouraged to work alone.

 

Diversity

It is a great benefit for businesses to have this, as it gives them access to a greater range of talent. This talent does not belong to one particular worldview, ethnicity, or any other restricting definition, but instead it is knowledgeable of many. It helps provide insight into the needs and motivations of all your client or customer base rather than just a small part of it. The voice of introverts is one of the largest parts. And, potentially, as McKinsey & Co and a host of other highly credible researchers have shown, it makes your organization more effective, successful, and profitable.

 

Current landscape

 

In business or workspaces, virtual meeting softwares such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Webex are displacing in-person meetings. And online collaboration tools like Miro provide opportunities to work remotely. Many digital products keep emerging, and these products give introverts a lower stimulation space to thrive compared to traditional spaces.

 

Findings

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have all our meetings and group collaboration online. We gradually see some disadvantages of these platforms.

1. Almost all the online meeting platforms are video-based. The demands of a continuous, on-screen presence often result in exhaustion and, therefore, less participation.

2. These platform has the same structure with the physical setting of a meeting which may still lose the voice of introverts, or even worse.

 

03

Synthesis

Audience/ empathy map

 

In order to deeply understand the target users and prioritize their needs, I used empathy map to articulate what I know about a particular type of user. 

 

Conclusion

During my research, I found that individual agency is important for introverts when in a meeting, which includes:

1. A relax and familiar environment

Introverts feel more relax and harder to be influenced by the other factors in a familiar environemt. When they were with their friends, or in an online chat room, they would speak more about their ideas or feelings.

2. Control over the language barrier

When in a foreign language environment, people tends to speak less to avoid making mistakes. Once they can fully understand what other people are saying, they would

express more.

3. The time to process new information

Introverts prefer thinking before speaking. They need time to process the information and give their desired answer, but usually the time to speak has already passed. 

4. Equal opportunities to speak

If there is one voice controlling the conversation, the confidence of speaking up for introverts might be impacted.

These all have a negative impact on introverts. If things continue this way, introverts may choose not to think in the meeting and participate less and less. This continued type of meeting will result in lack of contribution and an unpleasant experience for introverts.

 

Design principles

 

Design principles are fundamental pieces of advice to follow when making a design decision. Learning from my secondary research, subjective matter interviews with my target users, I synthesized my research into these three design principles. These principles are intended to serve as the guide rails to keep further design iterations consistent and to speak to the users. 

 

1. Be active, not passive

As this extrovert-centric society rewards extroverts and is challenging for introverts to navigate, introverts can easily develop a passive attitude towards themselves. But, being active can give introverts the chance to gain the courage to contribute to a successful life.

 

2. Set boundaries

Introverts usually enjoy the comfort of solitude, the efficiency of not commuting, and the freedom from interruptions by other extroverted friends. But solitude is not always the introverts’ heaven, as they may lose the feeling of acceptance. Introverts also crave connection, but their energy reduces as they have interactions with others. So the boundary between solitude and connection is essential for introverts.

 

3. Vary with each individual

There are no absolute introverts and extroverts. It is a spectrum. Everyone has the tendency to be introverted or extroverted, and every personality has space for flexibility. So it is hard to say one solution fits all.

 

04

Design

Opportunity

Hill statement

Hills are statements exploring meaningful user outcomes. Writing hills helps me identify the specific user and what the user is enabled to do. It gives designers the direction of where to go and the creative space to come up with breakthrough ideas. Hills include three elements: the Who, the What, and the Wow.

Based on my research, I used this method to figure out which direction to go and find the Wow moment that fit my intention for this project.

 

Prototype

 

Based on the insights got from research and concept brainstorm, I sketched the elements and screens that were necessary to reach users' goals, to quickly see whether my idea works. 

 

Testing

I began with the idea of a mobile application. But after research and testing, I found it would be easier to develop a desktop application, as nowadays people generally use their computer for the larger screen and keyboard all day. This actually made the process more efficient.

 

Wireframes

 

 

Introducing AllAccess

 

1. Creating a virtual environment with avatars 

Many video meeting platforms need participants' continuous, on-screen presence, which often results in exhaustion and less participation. Because of this, I decided to use avatars to create a different meeting platform and experience. Unlike three-dimensional avatars, which are complex and noisy, these two-dimensional, illustration-style avatars provide a simple and calming environment for introverts, while also making sure the process is still interactive and collaborative. Users can choose their own avatar by customized hairstyles, clothes and accessories. After creating their own avatar, they can start using it to communicate with other teammates. 

 

2. Live translation

For international companies, employees with different language backgrounds may speak up less to avoid making mistakes. Instead of being cautious to speak up, AllAccess also includes a translation feature for individuals whose primary language differs from that of the larger group.

 

3. "Inspiration Mode" provides equal opportunities to speak

When everyone's voice and ideas come to the highest priority of the meeting, more factors need to be considered. So AllAccess creates an "Inspiration Mode". It may slow down the effectiveness of communication, but it provides an encouraging environment for everyone especially introverts to fully express their ideas. 

There are two main differences from normal mode:

 

1. If someone speaks too much, it is hard for introverts to break into the conversation, and the confidence of speaking up for introverts might be hurt. Based on this insight, I created this mechanism where when one person is preparing to speak, other people can not talk until that person finishes their thought. This mechanism protects introverts by preventing extroverts from speaking too much. This process provides an environment for extroverts to gradually learn to combine speaking with listening.

 

2. In a physical meeting, introverts might be afraid of raising their need for time to process information because of the evaluation apprehension. But the time for processing new information is an essential part for introverts to participate in the conversation. AllAccess provides an anonymous opportunity where introverts can raise their needs without being exposed to everyone. This also gives them access to raise the need for processing time immediately.

 

Normal Mode

 

Inspiration Mode

 

Test & Iteration

 

The final design came from the usability test with target users. There are four main feedbacks about the platform:

1. Mobile App to desktop

There are a lot of things need to do when in a meeting, so the mobile app is not enough

for users.

2. The position of the buttons

Considering the scenarios that different buttons have, I tested with target users to put the buttons in the right place.

 

3. The hierarchy of the avatars

It is hard for users to recognize the different status of the avatars when they are all colorful and one size. So I utilized the saturation of the color and the size of avatars to differentiate the different status of the avatars.

4. The effective communication of the meeting

Initially, I tried to design the whole platform as Inspiration Mode. But actually it prolonged the communication and made it less effective. So I used Inspiration Mode as an option, the facilitator of the meeting can choose to turn it on or off.