Online communication

Face-to-face meetings ease the tension and nervousness you get when being tutored, especially initially.
— User interview


project overview

Students state they are confused by how to control the A/V options on our lesson space. Let's improve and clarify them, making them intuitive and easy-to-use.


• Reduce abandonment of live lessons due to technical glitches

• Higher retention rate due to strong first lesson

• KPI: Reduce 5% of short live lessons 

Key questions

  • How do students expect to communicate inside the lesson space?
  • Do students want to be defaulted into audio before entering the lesson space?
  • How do students and tutors decide the communication tools they want to use?
  • How would tutors feel if students' preferences guided their own options?
  • What if we tested a user's ability to handle A/V before they enter the lesson space?

My role:

  • Solo designer, interaction design, visual design, partner with research and product


past research

We knew there were issues with online tutoring feeling less personal, focused, and more awkward due to body language. There were also lots of technical issues with the current A/V.

Current A/V set up pictured to left (bottom left).


competitive analysis

Conducted a competitive analysis looking at competitors and audio, video, screenshare and collaboration tools. Students referenced FaceTime and Skype as their familiar mental models.




Detailed interaction flow for how A/V works.


high level flow



Sketched ideas with the team to get going on the concepts and directions we wanted to test.

version 1 concepts


version A: phone call 

We had heard from students before that students wanted to be defaulted into audio, so wanted to test a phone call concept after they chose their tutor and have a bridge into setting up the lesson space. Currently, audio was turned on in the lesson space.


version B: widget

Similar to online meeting paradigms, wanted to test a movable module for the A/V controls. Found that students were unfamiliar with these business paradigms.


version C: screenshare

Wanted to test a concept where, similar to Skype or Google Hangout, only the A/V was provided and no other tools, and screensharing would be the main way to communicate in tools that were comfortable to both student and tutors. This was too much of a blue sky idea for the scope of this project.


version D: better grouping

This was the exploration closest to the current lesson space, grouping the communication tools together and with the other tools. This ended up performing the best and is closest to what launched.

version 2 concepts

After iterating and reviewing internally, we moved forward with testing just two concepts.

Version A: Phone call, iteration 2


VERSION B: better grouping, iteration 2


launch state

We found that students preferred better grouping of the communication tools and not defaulting into audio, but promoting it with guidance tooltips. Better labeling of each tool and guidance was needed through tooltips. There was confusion over mute and if their tools controlled the tutor's side as well, so that was clarified.


all states

All audio, video, chat, bandwidth alerts, tooltip labels, spec'ed out here.

Next steps

Continue working on this project in the Lesson Space project.