User research, Research synthesis,
UX design, Prototyping, User test,
Creating a chat and audio-based meeting platform that provides introverts with space to
freely express their ideas.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.