Skype for Business

Microsoft Skype for Business (SfB) is the full-service meeting solution of Office365 for enterprise companies. Besides online meetings and advance calling options, many people were surprised that it also offers VoIP service with real phone numbers solutions like other telecom service companies.

With stiff competition from other enterprises like Cisco and smaller startups, SfB knew that it needed to rethink the way the tool was managed. And this was where I came in.


Role & Responsibilities

Product Designer III, Microsoft

Visual Design, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, and testing

Team of 7 project managers, 6 developers, and 1.5 designer


The Problem

Lync Admin Center or LAC was created in the early day of SfB. It contains a lot of many robust features such as user management, group management, voice and teleconference, and more. However, it was built specifically for expert IT professionals in the enterprise (1000+ employees) setting. To utilize the features, the system required a lot of specific knowledge, which limits the growth potential of SfB.

Pain point 1

The majority of clients rely on live helpdesk support for critical tasks such as phone number transfer, ordering, and releasing.

Pain point 2

Poorer IT experience compare to newer competitors such as Zoom, Cisco, and RingCentral

Phone IT administration is a very stressful process because you are afraid of breaking things and taking down lines. When this become self-serve, then I take all the risk. So it’s very scary. I need this process to be easy, friendly, and provide lots of feedback to give confidence at every step.

Business Goal

Create friendly IT experience for mid- to small businesses and reduce the dependency on call centers while coordinate with other Office 365 enterprise branding.

Solution: Rethink the IT admin experience from the ground up

  1. Focus on IT admin lifecycle - align the new IA design to users’ lifecycle (understanding, rollout, and adoption)
  2. Journey focused design – to off-load the tasks from call centers, any high-risk task needed to have a guided experience that ensure users' confidence level while offering an easy exit when they decide to get help.
  3. Heavy emphasis on experience quality – including visual, written, and interaction.

Challenges

Multi-national Regulations compliance

With the scale of SfB, designing a consistent experience for global companies like Bosch or Novo Nordisk can be quite a challenge due to different regulations between countries. The design must be robust enough to handle different rules and regulations while keeping the experience easy and intuitive.

Multiple stakeholders

With the massive product like SfB, each function requires its own project manager. Aligning the design to fits all the possible needs and functionality is no easy task. On the clients’ side, SfB is only a part of their whole IT infrastructure. So it is important to involve the key clients at this stage as part of the stakeholders.

6 experience principles

Because this is basically the new foundation of Skype IT experience. I focus on the core essentials for success that are sustainable and flexible for future.

Customer success principle

This is the most important principle in Fenix design. The dashboard is here to support customers on whatever they want to accomplish. All elements in the design need to guide customers to the right path of action.

Visibility & recovery principle

To ease customers' anxiety, the design focuses on communication and when to bring attention to the customers at the right time and how to solve it.

Motion principle

Motion is used strategically to enhance navigation and bring to focus to the correct location on the screen. This also helped Fenix dashboard align with Microsoft new design language, Fluent.

Office family principle

Even as a separate brand, to IT customer SfB is a part of Office 365 work flow, so aligning core interaction pattern makes a lot of sense. However, it has to adapt the Skype branding intelligently as well.

Typography, and grid principle

To keep the visual consistency in the future, the design is based on multiple of 4 pixel grid. The type ramp was also spec out to align with Microsoft Fabric Design with support SDK.

Jobs to be done principle

This is our core belief. Customers buy SfB for what we can bring to enhance their businesses. All features and designs need to work together heuristically to hide unnecessary complications.

Before:

  1. IA was grouped by features and fragmented
  2. Low quality of visual and overall journey experience
  3. Required expert knowledge to understand pitfalls, errors, and operations.

After:

  1. IA focused on IT admin lifecycle
  2. Update visual, writing, interaction design quality to Microsoft modern standard
  3. Excellent journey experience with ease of use for non-expert IT admin.

Impact: Evolution to Teams

Later, the SfB portal was folded into the Teams Admin portal instead due to the priority and product strategy. However, the work was transferred over to Microsoft Teams IT portal with all core design from my SfB works including all 6 design principles. It is known to be the most modern portal among Office 365 suites.


Skype for Business

Product, Visual, Interaction Design

Microsoft Teams

Design Audit, Mobile App Design

Microsoft Azure AD

UX Strategies, Visual, Interaction Design

Password required

Novo Nordisk

UX Strategies, R&D Design, Prototype

Password required

Novo Nordisk

Software as a Medical Device UX/UI

University of Washington

Marketing, Branding, Project Management

Let's make great things happen together!

Contact Prak