Phase 2: Gathering Requirements

This document is written for the Midterm Project in H541: Interaction Design Practice — Instructed by Sonali Shah, at IUPUI in Indianapolis, IN.

Other parts of this project:

The purpose of Phase 2 is to identify needs and requirements for the design outlined in Phase 1. This documents details the planning and methods for collecting data in 2.1: Questionnaire Design. It then provides an analysis of the collected data in 2.2 Target Audience and Requirements. Finally, it illustrates the user experience of the solution with scenarios in 2.3: Description of Scenarios.

2.1: Questionnaire Design

In order to take my time limitation (just over a week) into consideration for this portion of the project, I used a combined approach for collecting data. This included an online survey, hosted via Google Forms, as well as a couple in-person user interviews guided by the same questions. While it could have sufficed to only use the online interviews, I included the second part to further my experience with real-world user interviews.

For the in-person interview, I sat-face-to-face with my interviewee, and recruited a friend to transcribe while I asked questions. This allowed me to focus on keeping a natural flow of conversation while asking questions. If I were to repeat this process again, I would want to try asking more followup questions. If a subject is already willingly talking about a certain aspect, it’s better to keep the momentum going and get more details than to push them onwards to the next question.

Also keep in mind that due to the limited scope of the project (only 6 weeks total, as outlined in Phase 1.3). In a true full-scale project, I would incorporate time for much more detailed and inclusive user interviews, to more fully uncover requirements.

In an attempt to gather requirements from a representative set of users, I specifically asked for “any individuals that collaborate with teams to complete a project” to fill out the Google Form. As described by Preece, Rogers and Sharp (2016), it is vital to the user-centered approach not to “overlook certain sections of the stakeholder population.” While there was not sufficient time to investigate fully enough so as not to exclude any sections of the stakeholder population, I was at least able to target the survey at as wide of an audience as possible.

The structure for the questionnaire began with some user profiling questions, rather than focusing on usability questions right away. I did this to provide better context for answers given the work environment and occupation. Next, I asked questions specific to current tools and processes in terms of what worked well and what challenges existed. I wrapped up the survey with exit questions to gather any additional thoughts on working with teams or general comments.

Below is the list of questions asked in the survey:

Section 1

  • What is your occupation?
  • Do you work with at least one distinct team of people at work?
  • How many distinct teams or groups of people do you work with?
  • How many people are on your team (if you work with more than one, provide a range of the smallest and the largest)?
  • What type of mobile phone do you use for work purposes?
    (If you use more than one mobile device for work, please select which ever you use most often)

Section 2

  • Describe a typical day working with your team(s)
    (If you work with more than one team, you can focus on just one)
  • Tell me about a project you recently completed. What kind of project was it?
  • Broadly describe the process of accomplishing a project with your team(s)
    (If you work with more than one team, you can focus on just one)
  • What is your primary means of communication with members of your team(s)?
    (i.e. team email thread, Google Hangouts group, etc.)
  • What is the most challenging part of your current method of communication with your team(s)?
  • What is the best part of your current method of communication with your team(s)?
  • How does your team(s) share and manage files?
    (i.e. files storage service such as Google Drive; emailing files back and forth)
  • What is the most challenging part of sharing and managing files with your team(s)?
  • What is the best part of sharing and managing files with your team(s)?
  • What tools/methods do you use when creating shared team documents?
    (i.e. Microsoft Word doc sent back and forth; Google Docs, etc.)
  • What is the most challenging part of working on shared documents with your team(s)?
  • What is the best part of working on shared documents with your team(s)?

Section 3

  • If you could change one thing about how your team works together today, what would it be?
  • Any other thoughts about how you work with your team(s)?

One tactic I used for writing these questions was write goals for what I wanted to understand (Sheng, 2015).

  • What processes do teams use when completing projects?
  • What software is currently being used what are the downsides and upsides?
  • What’s working and not working with current processes as a whole?

Interesting observations about my questions after looking at some of the responses… In the questions about mobile phones, I made an assumption that all people in modern business use mobile phones for work. This is not always the case. This indicates that while a mobile-first approach may still be valuable, a mobile-only approach doesn’t make much sense. It made me want to ask more questions about desktop computing as well.

Another survey post-mortem observation: I provided examples of answers to certain questions in order to clarify what I was asking in the question. But I am worried that I may have slightly influenced responses (encouraging more answers similar to my suggestions and not allowing for more open answers). In the future, I might try removing the examples and proving clearer question phrasing instead.

2.2: Target Audience and Requirements

The analysis was difficult in that it was different from the previous practice we had. While the Now Your Turn exercise with the fake collected responses had some blindingly clear patterns laid out, I had to work a bit harder to find the commonalities in my results. Perhaps either altering the sample size or asking more targeted questions would allow easier pattern-matching.

Nonetheless, I was able to draw a pattern of insights with accompanying recommendations for the direction of the product. It helped that I had a total of 8 respondents; 6 from the online form and 2 from in-person interviews.

I highlighted as many patterns as I could. Not all responses provided enough detail to get a true sentiment (positive/negative) or categorization. Because I’m ever-so-slightly colorblind, I think my future strategy will be to use only green and red for sentiment and then also use some kind of tagging system to group related comments.

Below are the specific insights drawn from my analysis, with associated recommendations. This serves to describe the target audience in terms of their current challenges and needs. It outlines the requirements for this project.

For each I have also included a quote that exemplifies the insight. They are quoted anonymously and referenced by their occupation rather than company to better contextualize their response.

Insight: Users that collaborate with external teams have to completely alter which tools they use for communication, file sharing and document creation because it is too difficult to add external team members to existing tools.

Recommendation 1: Include a feature that allows for external team members to be added quickly and easily (i.e. via paste of an entire list of email addresses).

Recommendation 2: Make setup for new users easy by pulling in information from existing accounts (i.e. Gravatar, LinkedIn or Google accounts)

Recommendation 3: Visibly indicate which users are external and which files, folders and threads are accessible by external team members.

Recommendation 4: Provide users with a toggle to also search for people outside of their organization when creating chat rooms, sharing file access, and other activities that involve searching for people. It is not always known whether external users already have accounts as well as what email address is associated with their account.

If we’re working on a project with clients, we either have to join their method of communication or just use email (ew) because they don’t have access to the tools we use and we it’s too difficult to add them (P8, Experience Consultant).

Additional thoughts:
To summarize this requirement, it needs to be easy to add external users while also keeping track of who those people are. Privacy is kept under control by clear indication of what is shared only internally and what is accessible to external users.

Insight: Users are frustrated that their teams use so many different communication tools, as it can be confusing and can lead to losing track of important information.

Recommendation: Encourage users to move to the new product as their sole means of communication by providing familiarity and making it easy and enjoyable to learn and use.

There is no consistent means of communication (too many options available and being utilized) (P4, Pharmacist).

Additional thoughts:
This was the difficult insight to address because it relates to the tendencies and habitual patterns of humans, which might not have an easy solution. People love familiarity — they like to keep doing things that work. For example, that may mean continuously going to Google Hangouts any time they would like to talk to team members, even if there are major benefits to communicating over a mutli-featured platform.

As obvious as “make it easy to use” might be for a product design, this is especially important to solve for this insight. If team members find it challenging to learn and use, they will quickly abandon it in favor of what is already comfortable.

Insight 1: Many users are in multiple meetings every day.

Insight 2: Most users collaborate with team members remotely.

Recommendation 1: Include an option for video calling within the conversation view.

Recommendation 2: Allow for pinned documents and information in the conversation view, to keep track of things like meeting links and other important details relevant to that group.

Lots of meetings — especially using Skype because my teams is located all over the world. Everyone has their specific task (primarily business related) and I provide the IT support (P6, IT Analyst).

Insight 1: For some users, there is an overlap in tool usage (i.e. file storage) on their teams, which creates confusion and requires manual updating to keep everything in sync.

Insight 2: File sync tools are difficult to use and often slow and unreliable.

Recommendation: Provide a single, unified location to save files and documents of all types. From the file view, users are able to mark certain items to be saved offline (per device). These files will be synced to their local machine (on desktop), or saved offline for access through the app (on mobile).

There’s some redundancies on files stored in Drive and in InVision. Sometimes one or the other isn't updated. Our Drive files aren’t set up with automatic in-org link sharing, so that can be a problem when some requests access and the owner isn’t around (P1, Design Strategist).

This insight also made me appreciate the immense value in face-to-face interviews. Some online respondents replied to “What is the most challenging part of sharing and managing files with your team(s)?” and simply said “we have to use X, Y or Z file sync tool.” In an in-person interview, I could follow that up and clarify, “and what is challenging about that sync tool?” Fortunately, I had a couple respondents who did provide more detail – but I feel that I missed out on some valuable information.

Insight 1: Users don’t always know whether team members have received their messages and requests.

Insight 2: Users are afraid that their messages to team members will be lost, especially in a group chat.

Recommendation 1: Include configurable smart notifications. These would notifier users not when they are tagged, but also if anyone mentions their name, role, or a project they have been assigned to.

Recommendation 2: Include a “seen by” tracker in the conversation views.

Recommendation 3: Allow users to receive a notification when their message to a certain person has been seen.

If I don’t know when they’ll respond but I need them to, or if they even saw my message (P3, Designer)

Insight 1: Users highly value the ability to easily share or restrict access to certain files.

Insight 2: Sharing cloud-hosted files takes too long and often slows down users’ workflows.

Recommendation 1: Allow quick sharing of files in a conversation by referencing the file by name.

Recommendation 2: Include a share file feature, both in the app itself on a single file and in the context menu of the native file viewer. Provide a dialog that allows sharing via link or directly to certain users. Also specifies the level of access that recipients will have (view, edit).

Recommendation 3: Allow quick and easy access modification from the file view and from within a document.

Accessibility. I know I can reach anyone when I need to (P8, Experience Consultant).

Insight: The ability to collaborate (working simultaneously on the same document) is invaluable.

Recommendation: Include document creation and live editing features. Include commenting and document conversations.

Only one person can work on a document at a time with the security settings we have on docs. We cannot use google docs where I work wish I really miss the collaboration possible on that platform (P6, IT Analyst).

2.3: Description of Scenarios

Scenario 1: Maggie is a project manager for a large web project that is planned to go live in 3 months. She needs to touch base with the internal team on their daily standup meetings and move them forward toward the goal of completing the project. Previously, she would take notes about ongoing tasks, organized by who it was assigned to. She would write this in a Word doc while on the call and afterwards copy and paste it into an email to the team.

Now, with the app, she is able to take notes in a live document that her whole team can view from their own devices. They are able to jump into the document and make updates, all at the same time. After the call, Maggie doesn’t need to do anything else because her team already has the document. This particular document is pinned to their team chat, so they can all quickly access it and catch up on their assigned tasks at any time.

Scenario 2: Daniel is a marketing director for a small startup. For his next campaign, he needs to send his graphic designer all the images that he has planned to include in the direct marketing flyers and emails. Previously, in order to do this, he would drag the selected images from his desktop into his Box synced folder in Windows File Explorer. Then he would check on the new path of the files and navigate to them once more within Box though his web browser. Once here, he would select the folder of images he wanted to share and generate a share link. He would copy that, then goes back to his Hangouts chat with his graphic designer and send him the link.

Now, Daniel can drag and drop the photos into his app synced folder on his computer, or directly onto the app itself with the desired directory open. Then, he can go to his conversation in the app with his designer and begin typing in “+” followed by the name of the folder that contains the images.

Scenario 3: Jamie is a medical researcher. She needs to let her director know that a recent study published at another university may want to push their project in another direction. She needs to set up a call with her director, so she sends him a message to ask when he’d be available. He’s extremely busy and it can take a while for him to respond. Previously, she would send him a message on Yammer asking him when he was available and hope that he would write back when he saw it.

Now, Jamie can send him a message and select the option to receive a notification when he has seen it. That way, she knows right away when he has seen her request to schedule a meeting, even in the midst of his busy day. She can choose to follow up later if she still gets know response.

2.4: Summary

In this document, I have outlined the analysis of my research. I learned the most about the question-creation process after actually collecting the data. From my analysis, I was able to obtain both specific requirements and general requirements (must be easy and enjoyable to learn). Though my scenarios, I have been able to paint a picture of the user experience.

The next phase of this project will begin to introduce alternatives for how the design will look and function through low-fidelity prototyping.


Product Designer @ Salesforce