MICRO UX | IBM - Week 8

Week 8 🗓: 1 Jun - 5 Jun

Brief 🔍

Design a way to counter some of the alienating effects of remote working online.

Teammates: 🤝 Pat, Lee and Ann

This was a magical week for our group. We had a large breakthrough for our whole concept and development. We had a client meeting with IBM iX team and shared ideas and designs. I'm sure we all learned a lot from their suggestions.

Main Concept

After a brunch of research, we introduced the digital and physical plugins to be our fundamental concept. The basic idea is to send out a physical toolkit for people who are working remotely, and connect the physical activity through digital plugins. In the last couple of weeks, we have been brainstorming and prototyping on what activity we should be doing and sharing and what materials we should be sending in the toolkit.


Coming to the final stage of the project, we finally had a more clear structure of our whole concept. Sharmen is the design solution that we inspired by traditional team building activities. Individuals are able to share the moment of making some interesting stuff together remotely. And we inserted a virtual museum concept to collect and preserve the stuff that people made and shared in the session. The design idea gives opportunities for colleagues to share stuff that's not related to work. It believes that it could successfully enhance social presence and form a bonding between colleagues in this remote working setting. It will take place every Friday for around 20mins, we suggested people to do it before going off work on Friday.

Digital experience

Below is our product website, we target to drive people to subscribe the physical toolkit, download our application and add the plugin into any video-conferencing application.

Demo Video - Website to Application to Plugin

When you scroll down on the website, you can check out what toolkit collections that we have. As we also think of the sustainable issues so there will have different collections. Firstly, we will have a starter toolkit for helping people get to know their teammates. You have to use your original physical object to play those activities. Secondly, we have a co-creation toolkit, which aims to let them enhance creativity together. You have to use the physical object that we provided to play those activities.

After you subscribed to the toolkit and receive it. You have to download the digital application on your desktop. When you open the application, it has some instructions to teach you hope to add our plugin into your camera and use it in any video conferencing platform.

Working one the website and application design at my Home Office

In this application interface, I used the co-creation toolkit as an example. In your toolkit session, when you finish playing the blind drawing activity with our physical object - steam eye mask. You have to capture your drawing and upload the photo here.

Team Room

When you uploaded successfully, it will bring you to your team room. And, you can put the object on your room and adjust it whatever you want. You can also check the creation of your teammates. There is an online status of your teammates to see who is here. After they all input their physical object in this team room. You can click the video call button to invite all your teammates to start today meeting with your new team room as your virtual video call background. You all can have a quality time to talk and discuss your creation in order to achieve sharing moments. And all remote workers can connect and feel the physical experience together.

Application interface for the co-creation team room
Application wireframe draft
Zoom meeting demo

Physical experience

1. Co-Create ToolKit

As we used the blind drawing activity to demo the digital part, below is the physical user journey storyboard of the blind drawing activity. Is is one of the activities in the Co-Creation Toolkit.

Blind drawing activity storyboard
Blind drawing storyboard with photo mockup

2. Starter Toolkit

This is the toolkit for workers to get to know their teammates. It is like a user manual quiz. We aim to create less awkwardness, fewer social mishaps and more efficient collaboration.

Starter Kits Mockup Design

We set different types of questions. Firstly, "work-related topic" is related to skills, past working experience, languages spoken, the best time to work, personality trial, best way to contact me and strengths/weaknesses. Secondly, "What’s my favorite ?" is related to Food, Music, Hobby, Topic of conversation, Sport, Drink and Lifestyle. Thirdly, "What’s my story?" is related to Family, Hometown, Childhood memories, Past experience (non-working) and Fun fact about me. Below are the card mockups that did by Pat. And it will be included in the starter kits. We are working on the physical prototype and we present them on our final presentation.

Card mockups for the starter kits

Team Room idea

As we have a museum room idea that can let users share the physical objects and creation in our application, so we also thought about the design direction of the room. Ann suggested to do some 3D room rendering and she did a demo below.

Project feedback & Reflection 🙌

After we presented all the updated ideas and designs to the IBM team, they like our concept of the overall physical-digital experience. However, we still have room to improve our design to make it more human nature, more real and more friendly and soft. As this is a toolkit for workers to have team building together, it is better to have a more friendly tone and mood in the overall design. They suggest us to change the website style to a bright tone and don't use the illustration as main to sell the product rather using the real packaging photo and real users having a video chat to play with our toolkit. On the other hand, in the application, they suggested us to switch the plugin idea a bit. It is better to let people start having a video chat when they are using the toolkit so they can discuss more instead of just showing users their creation. It will be great if we can add a robot host to lead the activity so people won't lose and can be easier to follow. They also suggest us to align the virtual team room style because now the style is not consistent. Lastly, they said we could change the product name to "Sharmon" instead of "Sharmen", which is more gender-friendly. We found all those comments very useful and it helps us to improve our design solution in a better way. Therefore, we have a team meeting to discuss the further action and improvement to do in our coming last week before the final presentation.

Below is the To-Do list for next week:

1. Digital Plugin looks too techy, style and illustration doesn't feel like a sharing theme design, need to be soft and more human. Same for both virtual room design

-> Winnie: will change to white & blue style

-> Winnie: will add real package photo and real people video call photo

-> Ann: Virtual rooms need to align the style and effect, she needs to send the mood board for these two rooms, so we can have a look and feel how it works and understand what she is imagining. We think the effect is a little bit too different from IBM/human-style now, maybe can align the white color tone as the 3D room background, and use IBM Blue as the animated element and effect.

2. Pat's packaging mockup is the right style and present we should follow

-> Pat: will do a small version of the packaging for a starter kit

-> Pat: will send Winnie the packaging mockup photos/PSD

3. When presenting we should use simple sentences to present the rationale behind, How it works, Who is it for and Why

-> Lee: will revise the sentences that present on Website, and send to Winnie to update the website

-> Target Audience: Creative Team -> Lee: can think the rationale

4. Pat's idea would be good for non-creative people but also it creative people usually welcome and appreciate doing weird stuff------ Our target?

-> Creative team as Main target

-> but also welcome others

5. The linkage about uploading is not clear enough, iCloud or simple app uploader?

-> Winnie: will do a simple app to have two functions, 1. Take photo 2. Scan 3D object -> automatically upload to our desktop application

-> Winnie: add QR code for downloading camera App on website

-> Pat: add QR code for downloading camera App on Packaging

6. The video conferencing part is extremely important for people to engage, we need to emphases on it.

-> Winnie: Switch the plugin concept -> add zoom as video plugin into our application, people can use our own video call function in our desktop application OR use their own like Zoom but plugged into our app

7. An avatar could act as a leader in the activities, giving concise instructions for people to follow.

-> Lee: Think of the (HOST) instruction of blind drawing, write down step by step and -> send to Winnie to put on digital demo

8. How it will work if someone could go back to the office?

-> personal box / team box?

9. We need a new name

-> Sharmon: Share physical moment through your monitor

Please have a look at the next blog for further progress.

References 📖

Fapohunda, T.M., 2013. Towards effective team building in the workplace. International Journal of Education and Research1(4), pp.1-12.

Fried, J. and Hansson, D.H., 2013. Remote: office not required. Random House.

Ingold, T., 2013. Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. Routledge.

Rudani, R., 2013. Principles Of Management. New Delhi: McGraw Hill Education (India), p.761.

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