Research, Strategy

Microsoft Frontline Worker Task Management – A Foundational Research

Background Launched in February 2017, Microsoft StaffHub is a purpose-built app for the frontline workforce (also known as deskless workers, shift workers, staff workers, and firstline workers) to manage shifts, communicate, receive training, and share content. The product’s initial focus was on shift scheduling and swapping. Task management was the next big area the team planned to explore. The team envisioned it to be a new pillar of the product. I led the research effort to understand what “tasks” mean for frontline workers, how they know what they are supposed to do throughout a shift, and what solutions can best address their needs. Research goals 1. Gain a foundational understanding of what frontline workers and managers do daily, and what kinds of tasks they perform Understand how tasks are generated, assigned, tracked, reported, and assessed Gather examples, scenarios, and artifacts of tasks 2. Identify opportunities and key scenarios around “tasks” for StaffHub Understand pain points and ideal solutions for tasks […]

Research, Strategy

Microsoft Frontline Worker Daily Information Needs – A Hybrid Diary Study

My research informed the information architecture of the new contextual home page Background Both log data and qualitative research showed that Microsoft StaffHub, a scheduling and collaboration tool for frontline workers, has low usage on features other than shift schedule. I frequently heard comments like below from time to time during research sessions: To make StaffHub a real “hub”, I led the research effort to understand frontline workers and managers’ daily information needs, with the goal of increasing user engagement by providing more valuable information at the right time. In addition, the research was also designed to verify the design team’s hypotheses – what if the StaffHub Homepage is more than just schedule? What if we bring relevant content/features upfront and make them accessible for users when needed? Methodologies This research was initially inspired by Google’s “Daily Information Needs” study where 8 times a day, at completely random times, Google pings participants with the question, “What did you want to know recently?”. I adjusted […]


Microsoft What is “time”? – An Ethnographic Research

“What then is time? If no one asks me, I know. If I wish to explain it to one that asks, I don’t know.”  – St. Augustine wrote in Confessions. Research motivation In Outlook Design Studio, we strive to create products and services that help people better manage their time. To come up with innovative ideas around calendars, we decided to take a step back, rethink about what “time” is and identify unmet needs around it. Questions I tried to answer include: What is time?  What are the unmet needs and opportunities related to time usage? What else can we do to obtain people’s time to use our products when there are already numerous time-related apps in the market? Methods & Research participants To tap into this topic that seems so familiar and yet so vague, as a start, I conducted in-depth interviews and contextual inquiries with 16 people. I specifically looked for extreme users – people who have all the time […]

Design, Research

Smoking Cessation App Rapid Iteration

Designed and conducted a serial of user research on a new form of therapy, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, to help people quit smoking and increase product engagement. Client: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center        Time: January – August 2016 Role: Lead User Experience Researcher How I started to work with Fred Hutch The Tobacco & Health Behavior Science Research Group, led by Jonathan Bricker, is revamping a smoking cessation app called SmartQuit. SmartQuit is an evidence-based smoking cessation program that is proofed to be four times more effective than alternative programs. I started to work with Fred Hutch near the end of 2015. I worked under professor Julie Kientz from Human Centered Design & Engineering, University of Washington, with three other student user research peers from HCDE. We conducted user research activities that supported the development of SmartQuit, as well as some self-generated research that we considered important to the project. Our research activities included: Focus group discussion Background: The […]