Lifesize App Redesign

About the Organization

Lifesize is a high definition video conferencing company that offers a unique integration of plug-and-play HD camera systems and HD phones with easy-to-use cloud-based conferencing software. They made a break from their twelve year history as a video conferencing hardware company to become a video calling software as service provider (who also offers high-end room system solutions) in 2015. 

The first Lifesize Cloud apps could be generously described as an MVP to validate their new market strategy. There were some usability "band-aids" we were able to make to the existing apps, but lackluster customer adoption and complaints about the app being difficult to learn showed that more drastic changes were needed.


Objectives

  • Reorganize the app to make it friendlier for first-time and infrequent users
  • Ensure current users are able to find existing features within the new design
  • Focus on the ease of use for the two most frequent user scenarios of ad hoc video calls and scheduling calls for a later time
  • Reduce friction for common actions like adding additional participants to a video call in progress
  • Improve the consistency and quality of the visual aesthetic throughout the app
  • Introduce new enhancements, including improved search capabilities and in-call moderator enhancements 
  • Identify areas where the experience of Web and desktop apps needed to differ from one another

Skills

  • User Research
  • Usability Testing
  • Information Architecture
  • Interaction Design
  • Fast Iteration Management
  • Design-To-Development Documentation
  • Stakeholder Education
  • Team Development

The process

A tight timeline meant every activity from discovery through design had to be planned.

Just Enough Design Up Front

Rather than the waterfall-style Big Design Up Front (BDUF) that was requested, I proposed a path toward a more Agile “just enough design” approach. We used a highly iterative process to validate and lock on the high-level information architecture, app structure, UI patterns, and design direction.

 

Educating Stakeholders and the Team

During the course of the project's eight week timeline, I gave weekly status updates to the executive team. These presentations would include a brief overview of the exercises that were included in that week's activities. This helped the executive team appreciate what less familiar activities like card sorting and content inventories are, what they entail, the value we get from doing them, and how we use them in other activities later in the project. They not only enjoyed learning more about user experience design, but it helped the executive team appreciate the amount of research that shaped our design decisions.

This project work would be done by a team of myself and two entry-level UX Designers. Many times I would use the first draft of that week's executive briefing presentation as a starting point to teach them how to do the activity described.

 
 

Sprint Zero Planning

Once we had high-level pointing estimates from the engineering team, the order they planned to approach development, and sprint velocity we had what we needed to plan our time in the months ahead.

 

We planned our discovery/design track to complement the engineering team's delivery track. Our exercise was also the first visualization into what a realistic timeline might be for delivering the finished apps to customers.

 

We collaborated with the product managers so that UX could work two to three two-week sprints ahead of engineering. This let us create the stories and specifications for the experience and UI design in time for engineering’s sprint grooming meetings, but be close enough to development time to respond to new discoveries, solutions, and technical challenges we couldn’t have predicted at the beginning of the project.


Outcome

The project rivaled the NetSpend mobile app redesign on the focus and intensity, but I’m happy to say the UX team delivered on our initial two month deadline. The closed beta of redesigned Lifesize Web app launched at InfoComm 2017, barely a year after the beginning of the project. The desktop apps followed within the next few weeks.

Positive customer reactions (and some awards) started coming in before the new apps were in general audience beta release.

[Lifesize] has streamlined its user interface for both its software client for Lifesize Cloud as well as on the company’s phone (which also controls a Lifesize room system). As you can imagine, I’ve used dozens of UIs over the years, but none are as intuitive in my humble opinion as the latest version from Lifesize.
— Andrew W. Davis, "InfoComm 2017: Observations from a Weary Warrior"
The beta version of the redesigned LifeSize desktop app is flawless.
Great intuitive UI which we are sure our customers will love.
— OfficePlus LLC (@OfficePlusLLC) June 21, 2017