As a new member of 2359 Media’s Design team, an initiation was obligatory; I was tasked to design an app for 2359 employees.
Considering I was fresh off the boat, my focus was to discover my colleagues’ pain points and deep dive into their thoughts. This will inherently pave the way to design a solution that truly meets their needs.
To achieve this, I honed in on the following:
- Conduct user interviews to empathise with my colleagues in order to understand how they think and feel.
- Analyse indirect competitors to identify opportunities and threats.
- Facilitate a workshop with colleagues for app feature ideation.
With the methodologies above, I achieved these 3 main findings:
- 2359 employees value productivity, growth, strong team bonds and transparency.
- Increased employee recognition and satisfaction can strengthen employee commitment and performance.
- The most voted features that derived from the ideation workshop, corresponded with career progression and building relationships to form stronger bonds.
In that regard, the research fruitfully informed and supported my design, however the project has been put on hold for now.
Who is 2359 Media?
Headquartered in Singapore, 2359 Media is a full-service tech consultancy, specialising in Web and App Development, UI/UX Design, Chatbot, and IT Staff Augmentation. 2359 Media is part of NCS NEXT Digital.
I set out to speak to my colleagues to find out how and why they would use and benefit from a 2359 app. Engaging them in user interviews was not only a great way to become acquainted, but also to discover their experiences and challenges as an employee.
I created a research plan and asked them questions surrounding their priorities and feelings at work, as well as their thoughts on the company and current communication/organisational tools used.
I interviewed 8 employees from different departments and organised my findings into an affinity map:
To further synthesise and visualise the information above, I identified a key persona: Meet Jack, the 2359 Media Employee.
The interviews revealed 4 key opportunities:
- 2359 employees want to maintain productivity so that they can produce work on time and at their highest standard.
- 2359 employees need to continue learning in order to feel fulfilled and that they are progressing in their career.
- 2359 employees need a way to build relationships with colleagues so they can improve collaboration.
- 2359 employees want more visibility and easy access to the company and HR-related matters.
With reference to the double diamond, these statements allowed me to “converge” the problem and shaped the way I approached the competitive analysis and workshop.
A competitor analysis reveals the strength and weaknesses of competitors, and in this case, uncovers opportunities to help build a product that will appeal to the target audience. Now that I had an idea of the key persona, I sought inspiration from indirect competitors and analysed them using a plus and delta chart.
Opportunities 1 & 2: EngageWith and CultureAmp
According to Deloitte, Companies that recognise their employees have 14% higher employee engagement, productivity, and performance than those without.
Aligning with opportunities 1 and 2, EngageWith by Springworks is an add-on to communication channels that increases productivity, employee engagement, performance and retention. Upon analysis, the standout features that inspire the 2359 Media app are:
- Automatically mentions and messages when it’s an employee’s milestone, e.g. birthday.
- Easily give kudos to employees, making peer recognition part of the daily culture.
These features support employee recognition which can help improve productivity; a value-add to 2359 employees who aim to maintain productivity.
Culture Amp is a data-driven platform for employee feedback and performance reviews. The standout features determined are due to their support for employee learning are:
- Performance review guided by insights from employee feedback and self-reflections.
- Surveys can be sent out and responses recorded in the platform.
Opportunity 3 & 4: Meta and Microsoft Teams
According to the National Business Research Institute, Employee satisfaction increases nearly 50% when a worker develops a close relationship on the job, impacting employees’ commitment to their jobs and coworkers.
Corresponding with opportunities 3 and 4, Meta and Microsoft Teams are communication channels that foster connections and collaboration.
The following Meta features reveal employee profiles in an interactive way which can make colleagues feel more comfortable:
- Share articles, photos, status’ and retain a response through reactions/comments.
- Profile information is customisable and can be detailed.
For Teams, a key feature that could reveal employee information in a simplistic way is the Profile pop-up, easily accessible to all employees. This includes the name, email and manager of an employee. A downside was that the profile information can be too limited.
The features highlighted above served to inspire my design, setting off the flow of creative juices. Following this, I came up with solutions, however I felt that my ideas fell short. So I thought, why not engage my fellow colleagues once again to ideate solutions?
Feature Ideation Workshop
As collaboration enables innovation, I gathered 4 colleagues from different departments to carry out a feature ideation exercise. My initial plan was to facilitate a workshop centred on feature prioritisation with my own solutions, but after discussing with my manager, we concluded that more ideas could be developed with my colleagues, the prime users.
The task was to brainstorm solutions that align with the 4 opportunity statements. I gave them 15 minutes to write the solutions on post-it notes via FigJam. Next, we had a group discussion to clarify and group related ideas together, and lastly, vote on their favourite features.
The most voted features related to career progression and building relationships to form stronger bonds, of which the top 3 voted features are:
- Calendar that outlines social, after-work activities for team bonding
- A outline of the employee’s career path in the company
- Updates of company and project activities
Another 2 features that focus on maintaining productivity and company transparency that will be taken into consideration are:
- Employee work and skill sets tracker (i.e. ResourceGuru replacement)
- A view of each employee’s own performance review timeline, assessment rubrics, bonus structure.
This collaborative effort showcases the power of teamwork in driving meaningful innovation and addressing key aspects of employee satisfaction within 2359 Media.
Reflection: What Went Well
- Sharing quotes and insights from my interview findings to support or challenge an idea. This helped to build empathy for the user.
- Using reliable statistics to back up ideas added credibility and fuelled informed discussions.
- Leading the discussion by clarifying points with participants was crucial. When Seb (CEO) mentioned “Kanban,” I made sure to ask for clarification; he clarified wanting to have visibility on project health. This approach not only cleared up confusion but also encouraged active participation.
- I discovered the value of clarifying, rephrasing, and grouping related ideas – it efficiently organised everyone’s thoughts.
Challenges and Learnings for the Future
- I could have dug deeper to understand the intent behind an idea, even with time constraints. Being selective and exploring certain ideas more thoroughly would have been valuable. Next time, I’ll suggest doing a trial run with a small group to avoid any confusion or vagueness.
- During the ideation activity, the ideas were too broad and abstract. This made it harder to find meaningful solutions. As Seb pointed out, using affinity mapping would have given us better insights and more interesting solutions.
- A crucial aspect we missed during workshop planning: aligning with all stakeholders, especially the Product Owner and their vision. In the future, better alignment with all stakeholders involved is important prior to organising a workshop.
- To achieve more accuracy, I would gather more employees to vote on the features identified in the workshop.
On top of my own research, I had to balance internal asks from management: the app was to double up as a place to build client rapport by showcasing employee business e-cards via a QR code and the company’s tech capabilities. Furthermore, features that are related to employee performance are difficult to implement due to our gradual integration with NCS. In that context, here is a preview of the home page design:
Embarking on this design challenge was a great way to hone in on my UX research skills, while collaborating and getting to know the 2359 family. I liked that this project challenged me, as it gave me the opportunity to dip my toes in areas that I have never experienced before in a safe environment (i.e. facilitating my first ever workshop). By applying design thinking and engaging in diverse discovery activities, I acquired a wealth of valuable insights and knowledge, resulting in a successful outcome for the design challenge.