Freda Hu, Michelle Lee, Sofia Rodriguez, Caleb Tan
January - June 2021
Mindsets, Journey Maps, Competitive Analysis, Telemetry Data, Survey & Interviews, Crazy Eights, Figma, Usability Testing
Microsoft SMC ( is Microsoft’s main support and information website for its ecosystem of products. Though the site is visited by millions of users per month, the users’ characteristics are unclear, and telemetry data shows a low customer satisfaction (CSAT) score.

The Microsoft MARVEL team approached us to help them understand who the SMC site users are, why they visit, what challenges they face, and how this service can be improved. A business goal identified by the MARVEL team was to lower the number of people who contact their live customer support as live support is costly.
Both primary and secondary research were conducted over the first three months. We utilized secondary research during the research phase as due diligence prior to conducting our primary research. With secondary research, we were able to gain a thorough understanding of the support space and the current state of Microsoft SMC before meeting with actual users. Our secondary research methods consisted of a competitive analysis, analyzing SMC’s telemetry data and a Microsoft-run Usertesting study.
We were granted access to Microsoft’s proprietary UX research tools for our primary research. We chose to use these tools as it would allow us to recruit and speak with actual SMC users for each of our primary research methods. Our primary research methods consisted of leveraging Microsoft’s UX research tools – Intercept Interviews, Greenroom interviews – and a survey hosted on SMC.
Key Takeaways
1. Designing for low confidence users as the lowest common denominator
From the survey data, we found that low confidence users are the main factor for a low CSAT score. We hypothesized that designing for the low computer-confidence users would have a bottom-up effect and improve the self-solving experience for medium and high confidence users as well.
2. Users need help with describing and specifying their problem
Users’ understanding of their problem is usually vague and incomplete. They don’t know how to describe their problem in a way the system understands. We decided to lower this barrier by helping the user recognize rather than recall their problem.
3. Users struggle to distinguish between similar content and find what they need
Users tend to use search to find a solution. However, search results often don’t match the user’s search intent. Many articles look similar but ultimately differ, causing confusion. Our design helps users find the solutions that match their specific needs.
4. Users find content on SMC to be overly technical and hard to parse
There’s a mismatch between the language adopted by the website and the user. Users often find the content to be too technical and difficult to understand. We provide solutions that help users understand the techinical concepts and navigate faster.
Research Artifacts
From synthesizing our research, we developed Mindsets and Journey Maps. I took ownership of synthesizing findings for and designing the Mindsets.
We created journey maps to capture the turning points in experiences across the self-solving process on SMC. These artifacts helped us translate the emotions, pain points, and reactions that occur and the value of streamlining the support experience to the Microsoft team.
We created journey maps to capture the turning points in experiences across the self-solving process on SMC. These artifacts helped us translate the emotions, pain points, and reactions that occur and the value of streamlining the support experience to the Microsoft team.
Through a series of vision-setting discussions, we scoped down the design problem, and developed the following design goals:
How might we help low confidence users clearly articulate their problems and distinguish information they need so that they can more effectively locate their solution?
We used the “Crazy Eights” design method to generate innovative solutions. From this eight minute sketching session, four major potential design directions surfaced. We sought feedback and iterated on these four design concepts as our core features.
Final Design
Our design solution focuses on dynamic search result filtering plus in-article technical term explanation and navigation aids to help users locate their solution easily. In addition, we redesigned the search results page, incorporated access to community answers, and offered a voice option to aid the self-solving process.
Our design also services Microsoft’s business goal of lowering live customer support tickets by offering a similar experience to the support process provided by support professionals.
Reflecting on my experience
This project offered me many new experiences. Working closely with a company of Microsoft’s size, reach, and resource, and collaborating with their diverse team. In the month of May, Microsoft SMC received a billion page visits. I am glad we decided to expand our toolbox by learning about Mindsets as personas would definitely have not captured the diversity of people visiting SMC. Through the MARVEL team’s supported, I was able to gain experience working with telemetry data as well. This enabled us to be thorough and methodical in our research.
If I had more time, I would have continued with A/B testing as there is still room to investigate the impact of certain interactions and displayed information. I would also like to design for the mobile experience as we have heard some users prefer visiting the site on their phones. Lastly, I would continue to build out the Search assistant filters for more complex problems such that it conveys an evolving hierarchy of questions.
Other work
Product Designer
UX Researcher