Conceptual Zoom Feature
Full Stack Design :
User Research, Low - High Fidelity Wireframes, Testing & Prototyping.
To design an experience that nudges users with healthy tips to reduce Zoom Fatigue
November 2020 ( 18 hours)
Reflection Summary
It was difficult to provide nudges with healthy tips without being too intrusive to the call. We felt that users would get irritated and disable the feature if it was detrimental to the call.

On Reflection (in 2024) :
This personal project was an enjoyable endeavor, completed as part of the Memorisely designers networking design challenge. Reflecting on the placeholder image used for the bot that suggests breaks, I would definitely revise it as it feels quite disconnected. Leveraging today's AI technology, it would be straightforward to incorporate a "real" person who could deliver the message using AI voices. Since this was a personal project, it naturally bypassed some crucial aspects like stakeholder management, formal sign-offs, and developer handovers, which would be essential in a professional setting.
Following Jena Lee's article "A Neuropsychological Exploration of Zoom Fatigue" I took on the challenge to design an experience in zoom reduce zoom fatigue. In summary, every level of behavior is a tradeoff between the likely reward and the cost of engagement. "Even minor decisions, such as pressing the “Delete” versus “Backspace” button to erase a typed word, are made on the basis of these unconscious estimates to maximize reward (eg, time) over cost (eg, effort)". She goes on to explain "there are also elevated costs in the form of cognitive effort. Much of communication is actually unconscious and nonverbal, as emotional content is rapidly processed through social cues like touch, joint attention, and body posture. These nonverbal cues are not only used to acquire information about others, but are also directly used to prepare an adaptive response and engage in reciprocal communication, all in a matter of milliseconds."
Check out the full article here
With this in mind, we started looking into Zoom competitors to see if they were taking steps to combat this. Unfortunately, we could not find anything defence again this new ailment. Many of the programs did not even show the time in the call as a default.
Screener Questionnaire
We sent out a screener questionnaire to identify some potential candidates for interviews. Our main criteria for users was that they needed to be spending over an hour on average per day in video meetings. Ideally they would also be working from home.

We received 27 responses.

96% of users worked from home.

77.8% spent over 1 hour per day in video meetings and 37% of those spent over 3 hours per day.
Qualitative Research (Interviews)
6 users were interviewed.

All users interviewed stated that they were suffering from fatigue with 67% also suffering from headaches or migraines.

None of the users tracked their screen time or time in meetings.

Five of the users did not even have the time setting enabled on Zoom.
We summarised the insights from our interviews into our persona "Bobby".
We ran a design studio to generate multiple ideas quickly. We used the crazy 8 method keeping to 1 minute a sketch.

Our initial ideas were:

a) Video meetings with integrated timers, track actual time spent in meetings.

b) Visual prompts to take breaks backed up by behavioural science.

c) Making yourself accountable, set your own break-timer.

d) Potential Zoom & Headspace collaboration.
Possible integrations:
Within chat functionality.

2. In Zoom's status bar.

3. Visual prompt as a 'person' along with other meeting participants.

4. Peripheral icon / element, which can become a screen take over (pop-up) to prompt actions.
After reviewing ideas we voted and agreed on sketched 4 + 7 and decided to combine both ideas. Making yourself accountable by setting your own break-timers & friendly educational visual prompts to take breaks.
Making yourself accountable
Visual prompts to take a break
Initial Wireframes
We wanted to keep the Zoom interface similar to the current interface to allow the user to identify the new feature. We added an icon for "Screen Time" to allow the user to set the timer at any point during the meeting.
I tested on 5 users. I first ensured the user was familiar with Zoom and the current interface and then provided the low-fi prototype.

4/5 users felt that 2 minute break as the default was not too intrusive. They would be willing to take 2 minutes even if it was a busy meeting.

5/5 users felt that they would use this feature straight away. They felt awkward asking for breaks.

5/5 users enjoyed that it was light hearted. Timmy the time tracker, an old man who needs to rest.

No other points were raised.
Tom (above) was one of the users tested and is a final year psychology student at uni. He was particularly interested in the prototype and liked the simplicity of the feature.

"I like that Zoom hasn't changed. It's not in my face that I have to take a break but at the same time I can see that it's there. I particularly like the old man and the subtle text in the chat."
Final Prototype
See the final prototype here
Next Steps
An additional interface to show historic time and breaks.

Additional features such as auto timers set up at the start of the meeting based on previous settings.

A/B testing for a new interface.
Software used: Adobe XD, Miro,
Although the introduction of "Timmy" the time warden will help many users take breaks from the screen by reminding them of the time spent in the call. Ultimately it is up to the host to set the timer. Without an intrusive solution such as pre-programmed mandatory breaks which would likely annoy users, we feel this is an excellent start to tackling zoom fatigue.

If Zoom were to roll out the feature, I believe that the "new feature" hype would encourage users to get into the habit of setting up the breaks at the start of the meeting.
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