Virtually There

A platform to help people collaborate and carry smooth discussions during virtual presentations. (A UX Challenge)

Problem:

People often share their computer screens to present slide decks, web pages, images, documents, etc. during videoconferences. However, it’s hard for other people in the meeting to point to or highlight things. How can we make this easier?

Why this problem?

To pick the right problem, I started performing research on the topic to see the important aspects of a successful presentation. Later I went ahead and talked to people from diverse backgrounds about virtual presentations to understand their pain-points and filter the ones which align with the given problems. After talking to 9 people from diverse backgrounds, I concluded that the problem with highlighting points in a virtual presentation along with carrying out a smooth discussion has a higher need than taking visual notes. I also looked into the different solutions that are available in the market for both problems to get inspired and see which issue needs more attention.

Demography of people interviewed

Backgrounds: Student, Consultant, Project Manager, Entrepreneur, Designer, Analyst and Developer
Nationalities: Netherlands, America, India, Pakistan, China and Bangladesh

Assumptions

For this project, I am assuming that the product needs to be doable using current technologies and traditional user interaction techniques. For this project to work, we need to assume that every person involved in the presentation has an iPad or laptop with them and they are tech savvy. I am also skipping a few of the initial steps such as setting up the presentation folder, in order for the devices to turn on presentation mode to reduce distractions. There is a learning curve in using the product for anyone who is not familiar with such technologies.

Product Journey

Mind Map

A mind map to understand important aspects of a presentation

User Research

Performed user research to understand pain points of people during virtual presentations

Storyboard

From user research it was evident that people want a platform where smooth discussions are possible without any interruption. Most of the discussions involved sketching out or pointing out certain data or facts on the presentation and so I have decided to focus on that aspect of the product for this project.

Use Case: Tom is pointing out a data set in the presentation that he thinks is wrong.

Wireframes

Wireframes to visualize the information architecture of the product

Mockups

User/ Personal mode

Presentation/ public mode

Demo

Why this solution?

This solution allows users to communicate without being intrusive. It creates a physical connection between all the users by giving them a common place to scribble or sketch. It allows them to carry out discussions without worrying about if he or she can point out the exact issue they are talking about. The solution covers a lot of the basic issues that I researched by talking to people and it can be developed using current technologies.

Key features

  • Users can click on the mic to let everyone know they have something to share and draw on the presentation deck if necessary.
  • It gives users a common platform were they can scribble or draw giving them a sense of physical connection.
  • Users can easily note down comments or suggestions or ask questions without interrupting the presenter. They can also choose to be anonymous if not comfortable speaking out in public.
  • Users can customize their view mode, based on their personal priorities.
  • No content on the screen is blocked or hidden, every feature has its own space. Users can decide what they want to view or keep hidden.

Tradeoffs

  • The design requires people to be tech savvy.
  • There is a learning curve to using this product and can be overwhelming to new users.
  • There is less breathing space since most of the space is used for displaying information.
  • Anonymity though gives a voice to people who are not comfortable speaking up, the feature can be misused as well.
  • Facial expressions of listeners are not visible which can make presenters uncomfortable.
  • Users cannot drag the information tabs to reorganize the view, which can make the product look less flexible.

Improvements

  • Interaction design of the common sketching pad could be improved along with adding more features to it.
  • Add more features for group interaction such as web search for the team.
  • Having a dashboard where all the interactions are stored and can be viewed by anyone.

In the future

  • Mixed reality can be used to give a sense of presence of the people who are not physically present.
  • Voice commands can be used to point out specific information by using keywords.

Follow me on Twitter or shoot me an email (nisanoshin@gmail.com).
Always looking for feedback and cool projects to work on.