Lifesize App Redesign

Background

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 "it just works" room system solutions) in 2015. 

The Challenge

The first Lifesize Cloud apps released in 2014 were 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.


Definition & Strategy

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

Project Team

  • UX Designers & Researchers
  • UI Designer
  • UX Copywriter
  • Product Manager

Key Tools

Omnigraffle, Sketch, InVision, Axure, Keynote, Optimal Workshop, Validately, TryMyUI

 

Skills

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

Execution & 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" that was requested, I proposed a path toward a more Agile “just enough design” approach. Once we had executive sign-off on the concept and high-level estimates from engineering, we would then begin the next level of design definition.

We used a highly iterative process to do discovery activities and user research, then validate and lock on the high-level information architecture, app structure, UI patterns, and design direction.

 

Educating Stakeholders and the Team

Over the course of the project's eight week timeline I gave weekly status updates to the executive team that would include a brief survey of the week's design activities. This helped the executive team appreciate what less familiar activities like card sorting and content inventories are (and what they're not), how they work, the value we get from them, and how we apply our learnings to 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 the 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 train them on 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 develop, and the team's 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 the design team 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

Before & After

 

Increased engagement even in beta

The closed beta of redesigned Lifesize Web app launched at InfoComm 2017—barely a year after the beginning of the project—and 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.

Even more amazing? Before the app was even out of beta, it lead to a significant increase in first-time and repeat use of Lifesize by our customers to place video calls.

 

Reviews & Customer Quotes

Awards

Bronze winner for Innovations in Technology – IT Services, The Golden Bridge Business and Innovation Awards 

[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