“Can you zoom in?”
We’ve all heard it a thousand times. Between video pods, chat, meeting notes, and controls taking up valuable screen real estate, by the time we get to actually sharing content, we’re left straining and squinting at a thumbnail of tiny text and images.
The world of remote working needs video streams more than ever—to gauge reactions, emotions and create empathy between teammates. It’s the number one sign of engagement in a meeting. But the more we rely on video streams in a remote world, the harder it is to actually see the content we are supposed to be paying attention to.
So how do we prioritize both?
Below are the four challenges of immersive screen sharing:
1. Making content king.
At Fuze, our meeting platform has always been people first. If I’m honest, it’s something I love as a user. Our standard screenshare video format puts videos to the top of the screen, and therefore closest to the camera. As you look at the videos of coworkers, you’re also creating the illusion of eye contact—something we are desperately missing these days.
But what about the content?
With the line of video pods across the top of the screen, we lose valuable vertical space for content sharing. Add in the extra space around the video pods for controls, plus your personal controls (and the increasingly important mute button!)—and you’ve lost the ability to focus on what’s being shared. This just wasn’t working for our heavy content sharing users.
Image: Users have the ability to customize their screens—including where the video pods are organized according to their preference and situation.
2. Users are change averse.
As a top requested feature, we heard it loud and clear—users wanted the option for a more immersive experience. As a UX team, we also knew that change is not something to take lightly. Even if a feature or change is requested, it can cause unnecessary friction and confusion for daily users. The little known fact about UX is that beyond designing new and shiny features, it’s also our job to help users seamlessly transition from old to new. We needed a way to make the change we thought was best, without disrupting the workflow of our user base who have “learned” (and love!) our current meetings setup.
3. Change it, but don’t.
Digging into the requests and talking to customers, we stumbled upon another challenge from our users: Content should be king and larger screen sharing surfaces, sometimes. We hear it over and over again, users want options and to be able to customize their experience, especially in a meeting setting. This could be challenging, with so much to consider: When does a user want immersive screenshare? How do we show the right options in the right moments? Can or should we save their settings? How do we expose different layouts without getting in the way? We filtered all of our decision making through these questions, and the feedback of our customers and users to help this feature fit the dynamic and ever-changing needs of our user base.
4. Accessibility and controls.
Accessibility is something we keep in mind with the design of all of our products and features, but was especially important in this one. “Immersive” is basically synonymous with “remove all of the controls off the screen”—which could be an accessibility nightmare. Could we create a user friendly, focused, and inclusive experience?
As a UX team, we’re lucky to have a super talented team of product managers, designers, and engineers reviewing and giving feedback with us for every step of the process. Together, we made some key decisions:
1. Customizable. Our views will be customizable, and the user can choose the right layouts for the right moments.
2. Clear and straight-forward. Clear labels for different view modes with iconography for clarity (see image below).
Image: Clear labelling and view modes make for a better user experience for all users.
3. Smart settings. Rather than reset to our default meeting views with every new meeting, we prioritize the user preference and will remember the last used layout option from the previous meeting. This way if a user has a favorite option, they never need to change the controls again.
4. Content first. Controls fade out to provide more screen real estate to the presentation, and come back with the move of a mouse—with all keyboard functionality intact for accessibility purposes.
The end result: A dynamic, user-centric and customizable UI that’s accessible and puts screenshare as a priority.
We also took this moment to rethink some of our control naming in our video settings dropdown to make them more intuitive and user friendly, as well as make the options more visible to long time users who may not have discovered them previously. The end result is the highly requested and reimagined customizable, accessible and user-centric meetings experience our customers have been waiting for.
We would love to hear your feedback on our new immersive screenshare experience! Tell us what you think by filling out the survey linked here.