Abhijeet Singh Rathour
As part of a course assignment under the User Experience Design postgraduate course at Humber College, we conducted a study on Zoom. The purpose of this study was to discover the areas of improvement within the Zoom platform, based on how these areas failed to meet user needs and expectations. We also aimed to understand the patterns in user experience, which helped us identify the pain points of the platform.
Zoom is a video and voice sharing platform that helps businesses and individuals collaborate effectively online.
The platform offers a simple invitation feature that allows users to connect and join video/audio calls without a complicated registration process.
It is considered to be a leading platform in the web-conferencing industry and enjoys the highest market share.
A competitive analysis was conducted on various companies similar to Zoom (Slack, Google Meets and Skype) to evaluate the strengths and limitations of each product, and the areas of opportunity for Zoom.
The analysis covered three areas: Business Evaluation (looking at business goals), User Evaluation (evaluating how the product meets user needs), and Heuristic Evaluation (whether the product considers good usability practices). Here is our summative SWOT analysis of Zoom, following this process:
• Provides a significant number of tools to help users collaborate more efficiently.
• An easy-to-use platform that does not require significant effort or understand to begin using.
• Infrastructure that prioritises ensuring that users can use the platform in any environment or context.
• Limits communication features by requiring users to pay for premium accounts.
• Platform is too focused on social benefits, not enough incentives for businesses.
• Unappealing interface with limited features.
• Providing higher definition visuals so that users can have a better video call experience.
• Incorporating tools within the software that will help facilitate meetings better.
• Improving the user experience regardless of the type of service the user subscribes to.
• Users will gravitate towards products/services that do not require payments, or that are more affordable.
• Users would be more attracted to products with stimulating interfaces.
• Users will seek products that allow for greater collaboration tools for businesses.
Remote interviews were carried out with eight interviewees between the 1st and 6th of March 2021. Each interview was between 20-40m in length. Interviews were conducted with students of the User Experience Design postgraduate program at Humber College. To find patterns and trends in our interview data, we created an affinity diagram to connect our results.
Based on our interview analysis, we were able to discern the following key findings regarding the user experience when using Zoom:
• Interviewees mentioned that it would be better if there was an improved way of keeping track of meeting length so that the 40m free meetings would not often end abruptly.
• They mentioned wanting more noticeable notifications or a constant visual reminder, so that meeting progress could be tracked more efficiently.
• Interviewees mentioned that the visual alerts & notifications are decent but easy to miss when engaged in conversation.
• They talked about the need for non-disruptive audio notifications and making the alerts and notifications more prominent.
• They mentioned that the App Settings are available on the Homepage but there is no way of accessing the 'Settings' button while being in a meeting.
• Being a significantly important feature, the'Settings' button should be accessible at every stage.
• Though the interviewees mentioned video filters and virtual backgrounds to be the most useful and interesting features in the app, they do admit that these are not easily discoverable.
• They find themselves often running into problems related to the audiovisual settings.
• Most of the basics and necessary features of Zoom, used as a virtual collaboration tool is readily available in the free version of the application.
• The interviewees do not find the need to opt for a paid version of the same application.
• Interviewees mentioned there being a steep learning curve for first-time users of the Zoom app.
• Experienced users often have to direct and help new users in understanding how to navigate the interface and use the app. Some of the ways the app functioned (like joining a new session after one ended) were confusing for inexperienced users.
Based on our previous research, we concluded that there were specific aspects of the Zoom platform that people were unsatisfied with. In order to proceed, we had to identify what questions we would be answering through our design solutions:
Users, regardless of tech literacy or what plan they subscribe to, should feel that they can adapt to using Zoom without feeling stressed. As researchers, how can we employ solutions that simplify the user experience?
The balance between keeping the user informed and not wanting the system notifications to be obtrusive is important. How can we form the best solution for addressing this concern?
Zoom is a collaboration tool. Rather than simply providing a medium of communication, as researchers, we should consider how new features could be included to facilitate better meetings.
We were able to formulate the following solutions to address the problems identifed above. We decided that these solutions would be the most effective means of improving the Zoom user experience.
• Newly incorporated visual/audio notifications that are not disruptive to the user (by being obnoxious), but are still impactful in alerting the user of an action that has been taken.
• Consider making audio notifications optional.
• Addition of a visual reminder feature for meeting progress.
• Allowing users to create their own meeting agenda, so that they can divide their meeting time more efficiently.
• This would help users keep track of time and provide a constant notification about remaining meeting duration, reducing the chances of accidental and abrupt end to virtual interactions.
• Improving the Zoom interface so that extra features (filters) and app settings are easily discoverable for first-time and experienced users.
• Ensure that the interface is easy to navigate and understand by making key features identifiable and accessible, such as 'Meeting Settings'.
• Including an optional tutorial for introducing users to the key features of the Zoom app.
• Providing a way for users to quickly understand how the app works, and what settings they should consider.
Based on our research, we conceptualised two personas: one being the more professional Zoom user who regularly hosts meetings, and the other being more of a casual user who does not have as much experience with the platform.
Using our two personas, we also constructed journey maps for each persona. Each journey map details how the different user would use the Zoom app.
Task flows are a linear representation of the flow of tasks and the different steps that a person would take to get to a specific goal or end point. We create this task flow based on available data to map out the basic journey a user takes in the zoom app.
We used wireflows to map out a quick overview of the user experience when hosting a meeting on Zoom. The objective was to identify what key features should be augmented or implemented in a potential redesign of the platform to make this process more efficient for users.
After completing the taskflows and wireflows, we used wireframes to add further detail to our user journey flow visually. The wireframes have been organized in a manner that follows the user journey. They also helped as point out specific features that we have incorporated into this updated user journey, that we have highlighted with blue number marks.
User Launches Zoom Client and uses the Login button to Login. User uses the ‘New Meeting’ button to create a new meeting.
First-time user is greeted with a welcome message and an option to go through a tutorial of the interface. This helps flatten the learning curve & also improves discoverability of features.
First-time user is made familiar to the interface and its features using the tutorial. This helps flatten the learning curve & also improves discoverability of features.
The user is then provided an option to set a meeting agenda based on timestamps. The user can also set custom meeting reminders. This features helps the users utilize their time productively sticking to the agenda.
The system recognizes that the host is alone in the meeting and prompts them with a message to invite participants. The ‘Copy invite link” button reduces the number of steps from the current flow easing the process of inviting participants.
Whenever a participant requests to join a meeting, the host receives a pop-up notification with a doorbell sound accompanying it. The user can either admit them or deny the participants. The accompanying sound helps in alerting the host if they are not actively present on the meeting window.
The timelines allows the participants to stick to the meeting agenda and the timer in the top right allows them to track the meeting duration. The meeting can be edited during the meeting as well to accompany last minute plans.
Addition of clear and visible notifications when user receives a direct message or when other participants send messages to the group. This will also be accompanied by an audio notification. This feature will help users be more aware of what is going on in the meetings and have a better virtual collaboration experience.
According to when they set their reminders, users will be alerted at a certain point during the meeting of how much time is left. Free plan users will also be given the option to extend the duration of their meeting. Clicking on this button will take the free plan users to a pop up or screen where they can buy the premium plan and it will also show other benefits of the premium plan.
In choosing to end the meeting, users will be given the same options as in the current interface. They can either leave the meeting or end it for all participants (if they are the host).
Based on our research, we proposed design solutions that we believe will improve the overall user experience of the Zoom product. Our goal was to identify how Zoom can become more efficient at adapting to the user's natural workflow, and our design propositions address those concerns.
The objective is to continue to demonstrate how Zoom can be a powerful communication and collaboration tool for all users. The functionality, usability and accessibility of the app should continue to be monitored and improved upon even in future iterations.
Our next steps following this point would be to test our design solutions with users in order to get immediate feedback, before moving on to higher fidelity prototypes.