Reworking the Meeting User Interface of Blizz

Wolfram Nagel
Jun 19, 2018 · 6 min read

Have you already heard of Blizz, the new Online Meeting and Collaboration Companion by TeamViewer.

I have been working for this project for about 16 months now. My main focus has been the new Meeting User Interface which has been available for about two months. It works on any desktop and mobile device and every major platform! There’s also a Web Client (no download, no installation, no plug-in needed).

Of course, there are already other tools available and in general all these tools are quite similar. The difference is in the details, and cannot be found via pure feature comparison. During my time so far we have tried to identify and address real user needs, and their jobs (to be done) instead of just focusing on features or copying other tools. We have developed a framework which I call a “user focused decision process” (see image below / more details on that in a separate article) and modified some existing design methods so that they fit into our company setting, the stakeholders involved and our decision culture.

The so (from me) called “User Focused Decision Process”: Focus on and address user needs in strategy, ideation and communication. Everything is based on research, findings and identified pain points which are then validated and prioritized followed by an ideation phase. Marketing can start creating campaigns based on the most important job stories and communicate stories correlating to the identified pain points. Thus they can create a coherent storytelling. In the end, the main goal is to do the right things! :-)

I like the clear coherent cross-platform user interface. It’s really multiscreen-ready. And when I say multiscreen, I really mean multiscreen. :-) The UI is similar and comparable on each platform, but not identical (because it relies on native UI patterns).

Multiscreen-ready! Blizz works on any desktop and mobile device and has a coherent user interface, which is similar but not identical on the various platforms (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and web browser).

We also just released the Blizz Web Client, which makes it even easier to join a meeting by simply clicking a link because this was one of the major pain points we identified. Blizz just works out of the box, no setup nor complicated walk-throughs needed.

We listen and consider the specific jobs of our users

We continuously test and consider what users tell us. For example, some had problems using the correct audio input and output channel (“Can you hear me?”). So, we developed and implemented a feature that triggers a device selection dialog when a new device is added (or removed), making it almost impossible for a user to select and/or use a wrong output channel.

The Blizz Device Detection Dialog supports users in using the right hardware (for example when they plug-in a new headset).
Sketches and variants that we discussed in the team, with users and stakeholders during the development of the device detection dialog. We have done many iterations. Developers started implementing based on high-fidelity mock-ups.

We also have a speaking indicator with several levels, user guidance with notifications during meetings, and indicators for all relevant events (that can be disabled if not needed).

We have started a User Focus Program to collaborate as close as possible with our users and to collect direct feedback from them. We want to solve the right problems and define the right user experience.

We also listen to what customers tell our support and sales colleagues on the telephone. Each request, potential new feature, or problem is validated with the Jobs-to-be-Done mindset.

The process

Initially when I joined TeamViewer and Blizz, there was already an existing online meeting platform that worked quite well. It was based on the TeamViewer main product. The goal for the Blizz project was to rework this platform completely and meet the needs of our (existing and potential new) users as best as possible.

The product vision is summarized and visualized on our regularly updated Product Vision Board (a helpful method by Roman Pichler). With its help, we continuously check and discuss whether we are still on course and if we need to adjust the vision or the path.

An early sketch of the new Blizz Meeting User Interface (presenter view)

We started with interviews, created sketches, mock-ups, and a prototype and tested them. Finally, we released the new UI in early April this year.

No concept without pen and paper :-) Various sketches as a basis for discussions, mock-ups or prototypes, showing the general layout, the content arrangement, detailed and specific views for desktops and mobile devices.

Not everything is perfect yet. It can and will never be. But it’s a cool tool and I like to use it. And I’m proud to be part of this team! Our product owners, product manager, the director and business owner, some developers, and our sales, support, and marketing team all sit together in one room or at least as close as possible, because collaboration is critical to our process. With colleagues that are not on-site, we collaborate online using Blizz, of course! That’s what the tool is for. :-)

Status quo after the public release. Me and my colleagues testing and using Blizz. More images here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BiuvdfRhdSj

We want to make it easy for new users

We test, collect feedback, and listen to our users. We are continuously improving. We (normally) release monthly (Windows, Mac, iOS and Android have their own release cycles) so we can react to user feedback in short iterations. We have a lot of ideas (too many!) and plenty of potential features in the backlog (also many :-). The challenge is to choose and prioritize the most relevant ones. That’s when we apply our user-focused job-oriented mindset, which helps us a lot. And, when we have to make quick decisions and prioritize a large amount of topics without getting lost in details, we us the MoSCoW Voting method, for example. If you are interested in the process, just comment below. I’ve already prepared an article on that.

Try out our free version of Blizz — it offers nearly full functionality — and let us know what you think. Blizz offers a security system made and hosted in Germany, and customer-friendly licensing models, which are both frequent requested and a priority for our users. Users can enjoy more than 50 free of charge local dial-in numbers (included in the free version), and mix both phone and VoIP participants in meetings. And of course, screen sharing (one of the main product use cases) is simple with Blizz. Joining a meeting without the need for any download, installation or plug-in is what our users ask for. Our approach is an easy-to-use product and I think we manage(d) that quite well.

But I do not want to start a promotional feature discussion here, I’m more interested in feedback regarding UI and UX.

Starting a meeting should be easy. Users want to be able to make direct phone calls with Blizz so they call and invite participants on their smartphones. And, you can even mix VoIP and normal phone calls — which is a relevant and highly desired need of a lot of online meeting users.

That’s just a quick overview of how and what I (or rather me and my colleagues) did in the last 16 months. A lot of improvements and features are already planned for the future and I’m quite happy with what we have achieved so far! What do you think? I’d love to hear your opinion! If you want to try it out and give feedback, just leave your comments below.

Oh, and did I mention the free version? Try it out! Just go to http://www.blizz.com 😊


If you liked this article or Blizz or both, please ❤️ it and share it so others stumble upon it as well! Thank you! You might also read some of my other articles.

Wolfram Nagel

Written by

Senior UX Designer (@TeamViewer), UI Architect, Multiscreen Evangelist, Author of @msxbook, Initiator of @dmfndr. I love the web, my 👪 and ⚽️🚵‍.

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