whatsapp for teams

WhatsApp for Teams is a set of enhancements I proposed to the original WhatsApp Messenger to allow teams to work together more effectively. These enhancements were implemented over a 6-week Human-Computer Interaction course at CMU which taught the process of making these enhancements over a design sprint. Keeping customers at the heart of this redesign, the process involved 5 steps -  Scoping the problem statement, defining personas and interviewing users, synthesizing and ideating solutions, creating a low-fidelity prototype of the enhancement, and finally, creating a high-fidelity mockup of the improvements.

1. Scoping the problem

Current Solution: ​WhatsApp messenger is a text messaging application used by over 1.8 billion users spanning 180 countries. By design, WhatsApp has a simple messaging interface. It allows users to share text, images, videos, and other types of files with one another and in groups. It features a web interface (​web.whatsapp.com​) as well as dedicated applications on desktop, iOS, and Android.

Unmet Needs​: The unmet needs for team collaboration in the current version of WhatsApp are:

  1. Scheduling​: Users often have to exchange a number of messages between each other before zeroing down on a meeting time convenient for everyone.

  2. Polling and Surveying​: Users have no easy way to quickly take poll opinions of others

  3. Reminders & Task Management​: Users often have to rely on other applications for managing

    simple tasks and set reminders on the group

  4. Starred Messages​: Important messages are often difficult to find and search for. There needs to

    be a better way to mark and categorize such messages within teams.

Problem Statement

Grab User Personas Final.png

2. Defining the customer persona

Anticipated Users: ​The users I anticipate are nonpermanent teams such as ​groups of students​ or early-stage startup​ teams who have not yet standardized on a major collaboration tool such as Slack.

Research: ​I identified 6 potential areas of improvement:


- Scheduling Capabilities: The conversations that take place before a team arrives at a time to meet either in-person or online
- Polling, Surveying, and Brainstorming: The conversations that take place where teams share ideas and brainstorm 
- File Management: The messages that are sent as files on WhatsApp while collaborating in teams 
- Reminders: How users set reminders using other apps on their phone and understanding how WhatsApp can enhance this experience
- Starring/Bookmarking Messages: The interaction involved in marking important messages in WhatsApp and how this experience can be enhanced

3. INTERVIEWING USERS

Interview Candidates: ​Two categories of people were interviewed for this assignment on Zoom

  1. My classmates from the Master of Science in Product Mangement Program

  2. External candidate from School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University

Interview Observation Guide: The  Since chats on personal messengers are sensitive, the scope for observational learning was limited. Instead, interviewees were asked to open any of their WhatsApp student team groups (created for assignments) and answer a set of questions regarding their

  1. Most common types of conversations

  2. Scheduling communications

  3. Polling and surveying communications 

  4. Brainstorming communications

  5. Management of reminders

  6. Management of files on WhatsApp

  7. Assignment follow-up communications

Interview Learning: The following were the exhaustive list of results from the interview

  1. WhatsApp student groups are very common among Asian communities. A typical group has an average size of 4, with each member being a part of 2-3 other project groups. These groups are functional and active for 2-4 months.

  2. Messages regarding scheduling (when to meet) are the most common type of conversations. These communications can be particularly long during working school days when everyone is busy or has their own priorities and events.

  3. Taking opinions of others on WhatsApp group chats is often not effective. Teammates often digress from the opinion polled or sometimes do not respond at all due to (1) the flurry of other responses or (2) the effort and thought needed.

  4. Students using WhatsApp manage most of their reminders on Google applications effectively

  5. Students do not have any need to star important messages discussed in groups

Interview Summary

Detailed Analysis

4. synthesisING SOLUTIONS

Condensed Analysis: ​The problems faced by the set of interviewed customers can be summarized as below: 

  1. Scheduling for a meeting among groups is the single biggest pain point that currently exists in using WhatsApp for teams. There needs to a method to quickly poll the availabilities of members without having to send text messages back and forth

  2. Students find taking opinions of group members a real pain because some members tend to digress a lot or change the direction of the chat to something else. The person polling needs a method to collect objective responses with maximum participation

  3. There is a lot of interaction between WhatsApp and Google Calendar. After a meeting link is sent, some people may still miss the meetings if they have notifications switched off on their phones or their Google Calendar is flooded with events. There can be a better method to remind people of meetings.

Synthesis Overview

4a. creating a better scheduling process

Problem Statement: Scheduling is often painful with team members having to go back and forth with their availabilities before time is fixed that works for everyone

Solution Ideation

  1. Allow team members to quickly fill out their availability on the WhatsApp interface when a team lead sends a request.

    • The meeting is automatically booked for the earliest availability OR

    • The meeting is booked after the team lead sends a confirmatory message

  2. WhatsApp automatically predicts possible available slots of members and asks them to choose multiple. Team lead chooses most frequently picked slot

  3. WhatsApp automatically checks the synced calendar app of team members and suggests slots that work for everyone. Team votes. Team lead picks the most frequently picked slot.

  4. Team members send a voice clip of their availabilities and WhatsApp automatically compiles and chooses the earliest slot

  5. Members are taken to an interface of Google Calendar where they quickly fill out their availability. What is followed is similar to step 1.

  6. Keep a persistent message on the group chat window until a time is reached that works for everyone

  7. Team members can set their availability outside the group. That way multiple student groups can leverage a member’s availability data

Selected Solution: Allow team members to quickly fill out their availabilities on the WhatsApp interface when a team lead sends a request (via a persistent message or separate push notification). The meeting is automatically booked for the earliest availability.

4b. bringing polls to whatsapp

Problem Statement: Asking for opinions on groups can be quite challenging as the response rate is sometimes low and some members tend to digress

Solution Ideation

  1. Create a persistent message type that remains on the group chat window until everyone replies to it (increasing participation and response rate)

  2. Force team members to answer the poll when they open WhatsApp on their phones or open the chat window (increasing response rate and participation)

  3. Allow the questioner to give options in the form of buttons which the poll participants would just have to click to indicate their opinion (increasing quality of response)

  4. Send out a different type of notification that would urge participants to respond to the poll more quickly

  5. Allow the member taking the poll to dismiss or delete non-relevant answers so that he is getting accurate responses and opinions

  6. Allow members to send out quick gesture response to the poll (swipe to agree or double-tap the phone to say no) on their lock screen

Selected Solution: Create a persistent message type that remains on the group chat window until everyone replies to it (increasing participation and response rate). Allow the questioner to give options in the form of buttons which the poll participants would just have to click to indicate their opinion (increasing quality of response).

4c. better event reminders

Problem Statement: There are a lot of activities (reminders, sending ou invites on Google Calendar) that take place outside WhatsApp which can be brought into the app that offers a more holistic experience to the team members

Solution Ideation

  1. Meeting invites for Google Calendar can be automatically generated on the app hence reducing the need for team leaders to go outside the app

  2. The messenger can automatically drop reminder messages on the group when it is time for a meeting or to check if a specific submission was posted on time

  3. Team leaders can schedule messages on WhatsApp to be sent in the future that would remind members of meetings

Selected Solution: The messenger can automatically drop reminder messages on the group when it is time for a meeting or to check if a specific submission was posted on time.

5. usability testing the solution

Description of the Test Subject: The subject is a student of MSPM. He is a new user of WhatsApp and has only used it over the last three months. He is familiar with mobile apps and technology in general. His name is Tanay Agrawal. He is 30 years old and he is from India

Process OverviewThe evaluation is split across the two problem statements being tested - Scheduling and Polling. The study is conducted using Microsoft PowerPoint with low-fidelity prototypes

Usability Study

6. CREATING THE VISUAL DESIGN

Approach: My approach to creating a visual design for WhatsApp Teams involved building on top of my low-fidelity prototype. It involved the following steps:

  1. The UI for the chat interface was enhanced by including the WhatsApp default wallpaper

  2. UI elements including buttons, input boxes, and icons were imported from online templates and designed to match the real WhatsApp interface

  3. The color palette of the low-fidelity prototype was updated to reflect the colors (White and Teal Green) of the original WhatsApp Messenger.

  4. The low fidelity prototype was made clickable and navigable between the different screens designed for the two problem statements - scheduling and polling.

Visual Design Overview

Scheduling

polling

The end