Studies by Microsoft Research show that people’s time has become increasingly fragmented. In addition to the chaos of daily life, people have specific undertakings that they want to put energy towards, like projects for work, planning a wedding, traveling, or learning a new language.
Artifacts from these activities are intermingled and spread across several different apps, creating unmanageable silos where messages, document comments, notes, tasks, and events pile up and create anxiety. We listened to our customers’ complaints and set out to design a solution, and thus, Outlook Spaces was born.
2019 - present
Fragmentation of workflows across several apps
Customers feel a reduction in focus due to continually switching apps and context, up to 300 times a day. Many customers report feeling overwhelmed by a tidal wave of information from multiple sources and apps all through the day
Customer Focused, grounded in User research
The idea for Spaces was born in a brainstorming session in Paris during an internal customer conference. Users had expressed to us their pain points about feeling like their work was disjointed and siloed. We got back to Redmond and put together a customer advisory board, a group of users passionate about Outlook Spaces, and they provided us with feedback every week. In some instances, they helped us co-design features, and we kept a tight-knit relationship with them all through the development process
Hacking a prototype in 1 week
During an internal hack week in July 2019, a multi-disciplinary v-team conducted a design sprint to innovate and develop a new, modern time management companion experience to the existing Outlook calendar for the modern achiever
Engagement model - Prototype to MVP in 4 months
The journey to building Spaces involved not only solving hard technical problems, it also involved rethinking the culture around which we innovate. The team needed to be collaborative, yet laser-focused, innovative, yet realistic and customer-driven without sacrificing velocity. It was a peculiar challenge but we pulled it off and were able to launch an MVP in a record time of 4 months
In our approach to designing Spaces, we aimed to present a simple, minimal brand that allowed the user's content standout
Simplify your workflow
No more switching between multiple apps to manage one project. Add tasks, milestones, notes, files, links, and emails all into one dynamic space
Organize your content, your way
Customize how you view your content on the flexible canvas. Get started quickly with a template or get creative and design your own space.
Set due dates on anything
Keep track of specific milestones or set due dates on any kind of content in your space to get reminded about the things that matter.
Access your Spaces from the Dashboard
The Dashboard shows a user’s active spaces, allows them to browse templates, create new spaces, sort, filter, group, and organize their spaces.
Create, Collect and Organize content on the Canvas
In a simple visual way, the canvas is a flexible board for organizing important content and synthesizing ideas; information is laid out to make the search, retrieval, or manipulation of content very easy, intuitive, and personal.
Browse and import smart recommendations from Sources
The Sources feed intelligently aggregates project-related notifications and updates to assets. This is where we apply our assistive intelligence to pull in relevant signals and content into a space without users having to do any work. It also allows users to pull in these signals or assets onto the canvas to monitor them for changes or take action on them later.
More compact views
We explored different densities for the mobile view, testing our hypothesis that the mobile view should be optimized for capture and viewing, not so much for planning and organizing.
Create New Assets
Being able to quickly capture any kind of content on the go was crucial for users. We kept the mobile capture experience familiar with the big screen
Browse and import from sources
Users can search and browse 1st and 3rd party sources and import content from them just like on the large screen experience.
Sort & Filter for quick retrieval
Users can sort and filter by content type to easily find what they are looking for