top of page

“How can we study UX Behaviors and to improve interface experiences?”

KEYWORDS

SOCIAL BEHAVIOR | UX | UI MAPPING

 

CONTEXT

This project aims to understand how Zoom as a platform has brought forth a tectonic shift in the way human beings interact with each other. Virtual Social Behaviors exhibited by it’s users, the platform’s interface and its properties are two of the primary focus areas of this study.

 

KEY STAGES

  • What was Zoom originally meant for?

  • What is its role presently in the community? 

  • How might we unearth the subliminal shifts that this platform is causing in human behaviors?

  • How can we learn, understand and address the problem areas we discover?

ea98dfbdc8c2a056427061871bb42edc.gif

OVERVIEW

CHALLENGE

In 2020, The world shut down due to the pandemic and went online. Zoom became the social space for anyone to connect, communicate and stay in touch during isolation. Despite being the no.1 platform Zoom's user experience was limited. Platform users experienced their mics getting unmuted, their personal information being shared while screen sharing and many more problems. We undertook the task to study behaviors and identify where the needs lie and explore how the UI of Zoom can make its UX better for its users.

METHODOLOGY

  • We spent 2 weeks on research, including Netnography, surveys, and interviews to observe issues.

  • Zoom memes helped us understand social behavior.

  • We conducted behavior simulations on Zoom calls to observe user responses.

  • Through affinity mapping and behavior benchmarking, we identified 12 user pain points.

  • Our key insight was that Zoom is not suitable for collaboration.

  • We focused on screensharing issues and used 3 UX psychology principles to design a new UI.

  • The UI features were evaluated for Desirability, Feasibility, and Viability for Zoom.

MY ROLE

We were a team of two members and this project was executed completely virtually during the pandemic. To understand virtual user behaviors I discovered meme's as a window into user issues on Zoom. I played a part in behavior benchmarking and breaking down the data categorically to analyze co-relations between behavior, psychology principles and user interface features. I also worked on conceptualizing the new UI features, wireframing and UI design. At the end of the project, I played a role in weighing the desirability, feasibility and viability to ensure the business perspective of our changes would be considered if proposed. 

DURATION

3 months
September 2020 - November 2020

BACKGROUND

This classroom project was developed during the Virtual Social Behaviors Module at the National Institute of Design, India. It was conducted online.

About Zoom

Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (or simply Zoom) is a video conferencing platform that aims to provide frictionless communication services online.

 

As a Business, it is currently a SaaS service catering to B2B and B2C clients. They are slowly moving towards becoming a platform and may become an SaaX.

The pandemic has led to many needs of the society remaining unfulfilled. Its most primal necessity of ‘physical communication’ was taken away. This is how social media platforms and virtual modes of communication rose in demand dramatically. With an array of platforms providing many combinations of offerings as their service - Zoom rose to being reigning leader

451190_0001.png?reprintKey=1-2468658S.pn

Research Flow

Zoom Out - New frame (1).jpg

OBSERVATIONS

TOOLS USED

AUTO - NETNOGRAPHY

This tool was taken up to add personal self observations to our secondary observations. It helped us bring in a primary subject (our self) as a point of view to the dataset.

~

SURVEYS

Participants were questioned on their experience using the platforms interface and behaviors they have noticed.

It helped provide a primary source to the findings.

~

unnamed.png

INTERVIEWS

Informal interviews were conducted as random sampling to re-question our hypothesis and a few observations.

~

PRIMARY
OBSERVATIONS

Hover over images to learn more about other tools used.

We noticed that keeping the video off influenced the SOCIAL DYNAMICS of the video call

Secondary readings on video calling experiences, going through memes posted on social media and studying multiple zoom recordings provided an exciting starting point for the research.

We discovered various behaviors being displayed in memes particularly, like the one alongside

Meme 14 - When you accidentally share.jp

NETNOGRAPHY

FLY ON THE WALL

SIMULATION

A favorite subject of discussion during family gatherings in the pandemic was video calling- the struggles and whimsical experiences that came with it. Eavesdropping in various online conversations provided some foundational observations for the research.

~

We designed a simulation in a controlled environment with a few participants to test a hypothesis -

We checked if keeping the video off in a Zoom call influenced the participation of other users.

~

Screenshot (728).png

"The students are zoombombing their
fellow classrooms and the professors have no control over children! Teachers are so annoyed! "

We had a lot of behaviors that we collected through our observations tools. Some key observations are written below. We tried to place these behaviors in larger general categories by analyzing and arriving at their larger associated umbrellas.

People shut their video's in large meetings

CONFORMITY

A feeling of helplessness for new users who can't resolve tech issues.

INTERFACE

Stage Fright / Spotlight Fright on video calls.

FEARS / PHOBIAS

People apologize as soon as they enter an ongoing zoom call

FEARS / PHOBIAS

Non-interaction/ silence during waiting on a call

ANONIMITY

Not worried when pets enter frame but worried when people enter

CULTURE

People get impatient in the waiting room

AGITATION

Screen Sharing notifications are so seamless, people
don't realize 

ANXIETY

The larger map of associated categories is on the Affinity Map 

ASSIMILATION

BENCHMARKING

We placed all the observed behaviors against the physical behaviors in real life to compare and see if the behavior is being replicated or a new behavior has replaced it in the virtual realm.

The Physical behaviors are in White and the Virtual Behaviors are in purple. There were more clusters that were discovered and can be viewed on the link below. Alongside is an example of the Collaboration cluster from the Benchmarking Map.

Zoom Out - New frame (2).jpg
Zoom Out - New frame (2).jpg
Zoom Out - New frame (2).jpg
Zoom Out - New frame (2).jpg
Zoom Out - New frame (2).jpg

EMERGENT BEHAVIOR TRIGGERS

Zoom Out - MAPPING TRIGGERS.jpg

DATA ANALYSIS

Excel.jpg

FULL DATA BREAKDOWN

In order to breakdown and understand all our observations we tried to create an information matrix on an excel sheet to parametrically breakdown our observations into its finer details. This helped us identifying core focus areas and our information gaps if any - during the process.

Zoom Out - New frame.jpg
Zoom Out - New frame.jpg

USER PERSONAS

There were 12 primary User Persona's that emerged from the breakdown process which are listed below. We used these persona's to better understanding the problem areas and arrive at different hypotheses for each type of personality.

Hover over images below to learn more about each Persona

LEARNINGS

1

1f0d99e7d809edb5cba7831ce83e20d9.jpg

Record Button Conscious

Recording everyday interactions has increased mental focus on self

and is shifting focus from memory retention to hyper self awareness.

This influences the SELF PRESENTATION of a person. One may become a high Self Monitor and as a consequence develop anxieties.

3

c5406132ede3ab3f1409ec06896b181c.jpg

Camera Conscious

Being on Zoom Calls has increased self consciousness because the interface acts like a mirror constantly facing a participant.

 

This can negatively affecting their Self Perception and Self Presentation in the long run.

5

Anonymous Feedback

The absence of an immediate visual reaction makes confrontation easier in the digital space too -The removal from reality, a sense of anonymity. (eye - contact, body movement, gaze)

Can Zoom use this to their advantage and empower or lead their Users through their platform?

7

01cfebdf927028bb9aa9004d80d06173.jpg

The Seeker

chamomile_flower_easter_spring-512.png

© Ali Kiani Amin

People with high sense of worth (yearning for individuality) can attract more attention by

establishing an elevation in the visual hierarchy on Zoom.

This could lead to attention seeking Self Presentation habits in a social setting.

9

318762a56c0eee698daab06799092ed7.jpg

Disinterested in Agenda

Zoom calls can be intimidating for a casual conversation or meeting somebody without a formal agenda. It is becoming a cause for anxiety.

Can Zoom create offerings that help streamline or create common agenda's for Social Interactions to have a unified purpose on Zoom call.

11

Absence of Social Cues

Zoom lacks social awareness cues and has more individual centric interface tools. This doesn't facilitate the discussion.

 

While compared to the self awareness and self presentation tools it provides.

POSSIBLE HYPOTHESIS

2

Convenient Conversationalist

The Self Presentation of the speaker

influences the participants immersion, absorption and retention of the meeting session.

This in turn influences the Self Presentation of a participant and thus also the Social Setting of call. It inhibits communication.

4

16463e25b53d36ff1306b9ed0e907322.jpg

Animal Lover

In a virtual setting , an intelligent animal is considered more disruptive to the environment, than a non intelligent being.

Does the entry of a more intelligent being (another person) in the Zoom environment intimidate a user?

6

97f851723ddc10d4e18a9174a222c906.jpg

Simultaneous Multitasker

Zoom facilitates multi- tasking

which makes participants think they are being effective by achieving multiple tasks

but participants are getting conditioned to focus less on quality and seek less cognitive load.

 

This can develop into a rigid neural network in the future. Users can become quantity oriented and move away from quality task effectiveness.

8

9e45e80c02d7ce4559e34e9d6cda81ef.jpg

Solitary Presenter

The screen shared by a presenter acts as a barrier screen between person attending the meeting and their personal workspace. It also is too small to view when minimized on screen.

 

This causes anxiety and a sense of loss of control to the User.

10

77091fd986c8e16e415673e24b1a1760.jpg

Record Button Conscious

© Joanna McInnes

The absence of a visual cue when communicating with a person affects communication in a group environment where others are visually present too.

Creates a dissonance in comprehension due to the mixed signals received by participants.

How can Zoom streamline the audio channels so that when multiple audios are shared they can be comprehended easily.

12

775c8b1752320ca32c7d574dcb9b7242.jpg

The Puppeteer

There is an innate human mechanism of creating hierarchy but an external outcome of hierarchy causing deviance

in a digital environment. This, is a conflict.

Hierarchy is being used a tool to establish and exert power, even if there isn't a need.

 

The platform facilitates the creation of hierarchy which is then misused by users to exert power. How can we reduce this deviance?

INFERENCE AND INSIGHT 

Zoom Out - HYPOTHESIS _ NEW INTENT.jpg

IDENTIFYING THE GAP

We set out with our new intent to create a better experience for the consumers by building Zoom as a collaborative experience. 

 

Agenda, Hierarchy and choice became the factors to enable the effective collaboration with an immersive environment playing a foundation for the experience. Levels of engagement became the ultimate outcome that we would need to study to assess our solution.

We use Zoom as a single-use platform, for events. But there is a bigger scope at the heart of it - A collaborative system.

The previous steps had helped us break down Zoom as a platform and see the intricacies of the system. On Zooming out of all the parameters we saw the larger gap. The gap identified was -

HOW MIGHT WE BETTER THE COLLABORATIVE EXPERIENCE ON ZOOM?

Zoom Out - BOUNDARY_PROBLEM AREA.jpg

HYPOTHESIS

Hierarchy appropriate User Interface design will make engagement better and thus influence collaboration on Zoom calls more seamless.

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

We proposed the following changes to the Screen Sharing User Interface by targeting 3 User Experience Design Principles that 

facilitate better interaction and thus will make collaboration better. These principles are listed in yellow.

The proposed changes are listed in the white boxes with a red outine.

Zoom Out - Collaboration.jpg

INTERFACE DESIGN

Screen View:

The slides below show the progression of the screens as a participant might view another participant screen-sharing

Mockup.png

PARTICIPANT'S INTERFACE VIEW

Additional features:

Some windows that will assist a presenter to organize their screen before screen sharing. 

1.png
2.png

DFV MODEL

Zoom Out - DFV.jpg

We used the DFV model to assess the desirability, feasibility and viability of our proposed solution and how our proposal can be carried forward by Zoom as a Business.

WAY
FORWARD AND
SUGGESTIONS

  • Zoom needs to become more conscious of their offerings beyond quality video calling. It facilitates great seamless usability but the interface still requires some conscious work keeping behaviors in mind.

 

  • As a conferencing platform, collaboration requires focus. Zoom must evaluate the Social Atmospheres it is giving rise to through their feature offerings. 

 

  • They must develop a sensitivity to their consumer profiles. Despite being a platform that is accessible to the masses, a certain degree of sensitivity to the larger user group’s will enable them to provide very simple yet effective offerings. 

 

  • Customization is not a way of offering Users accessibility. Zoom has too many features and offerings and a weak Navigation and Support System. This has lead to users feeling lost often and perplexed even to explore the platform. They need to rely on external resources for help. 

 

  • Zoom is presently a market leader due to the quality of technology it provides but it needs to balance it out with their experience too. They are presently collaborating with multiple app offerings to elevate their stand to a platform but on a very human and social front, the platform still holds a lot of inertia. 

 

  • They need to grow from - we offer the basic needs and offerings to, we create a networking experience that is unparalleled. 

FELLOW TEAM MEMBER:

Bhavika Gupta

 

 All project findings are property of the team members and the

National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar, India.

bottom of page