Redefining Video Conferencing

Product design

overview

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India organised a Video Conferencing App challenge in the wake of the COVID pandemic and its after effects. Add Zoom's security issues which propped in the media and the situation became much graver. The client approached me to design a video conferencing product which fits the requirements of the competition.

my role

I led the design for this product as a freelance contractor. I handled everything from researching, defining the problem, developing the solution, wire-framing, testing and refinements. To complete this project, I worked with one product manager and two developers. The design deliverables were created by me, hence I did not need any other designers.

the challenge

This was a particularly difficult project since many video conferencing app existed already and building a product only for the sake of a competition did not make sense. I conveyed the same to the client and I promised him to come up with a real-life problem statement.

One problem highlighted in the competition brief was that, India does not have its own video conferencing app and building a secure product for the workforce of India will send out a strong message of self-dependence as well as boost the "Make In India" campaign. It did not seem like much of problem statement, but I decided to take inspiration from this and move ahead.

The words "workforce of India" really struck me hard. These were the primary audience and that should mean that problem statement should also be related to them. I started from there.

the approach

My aim was to understand whether video conferencing had any role in the life of an employee and if there was what were the pain points related to this. I can then use this information to look for more related data and then come up with a user persona. This will make it easier to build a user journey map which will uncover the user pain points and with that, opportunities to improve.

I designed a questionnaire aimed at finding these points and shared it via Google Forms. I also included questions pointing at the personal use of video conferencing to understand the behavioural differences.

With the insights from the questionnaire, I was able to find out my target audience. I interviewed a couple of them to understand their characteristics, wants, needs, frustrations and what not. This helped me in coming up with user persona for the product.

Once this was done, it was easier for me to create the user journey map. And when the user journey map was created, it directly threw light into some very obvious pain points and some not very obvious ones. The key insights are mentioned in the following section.

the discovery and the vision

User persona and user journey helped me in uncovering a lot about the target audience as well as how I can improve the video conferencing experience. The crux of the whole project can be seen on the user journey map and the opportunities mentioned.

the framework and the design

The user journey starts from opening the app to start the call or to join an existing call. Once this action is taken, the user is directed to waiting room where you can test your video, audio, mic etc. Number of people who are already in the meeting room is also shown at the waiting room, just like you would peep into an actual meeting room (wink, wink). You can also see if anyone is sharing their screen. The offline signal at the top with red dot indicates clearly that you are not inside the meeting room and the mic and camera are not streaming data.

Once you enter the meeting room, the number of people in the meeting, number of screen shares etc are clearly marked. The front panel has 4 display cards, the priority for display is based on whether the user is speaking, sharing video or screen. The cards are highlighted for the person speaking. The bottom panel has basic functionalities like mute, camera off, adding more users, call drop and a kebab menu to open up extra menus.

The extra menu has change host, chat, screen recording and screen sharing functions. The "i" symbol just above the menu card will show tool tip on what each button does. This ensures, no one has to be confused about how to use any functions. The initial design also had a step-out function, which would allow the user to step out to the waiting room incase of emergencies. This was later removed after user testing.

Once the call-drop button is pressed, you will be taken to exit screen. From here you will be able to enter back to the same room or start or join a new call.
I usually draw the wireframes by hand or sometimes dribble on my sketch book to keep the flow in my mind.
Since this was a competition and was running on a tight schedule, I could not make the low fidelity wireframes. I jumped directly to high fidelity wireframes using Adobe XD. Following are some of the sample designs.

the refinement and the impact

I tested the prototype on seven candidates which fell under the similar user persona to understand the feedback.Some features like point-and-speak did not go well with most of the candidates and hence I decided to remove those from the final prototype.

The final high fidelity version of the product was shared with the client. Since this was part of a competition, it was impossible to track the real life impact of the product. However, the final testing did prove that the features I introduced did solve some of the burning issue faced by the target audience.

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