Midterm: Exploring Zoom’s User-Experience – Alana Bonfiglio

In an article for Business Insider, Kristine Solomon (2018) argued that a great indicator of company success is when a company name becomes a verb. “Let’s Zoom,” is a phrase heard around the world, especially in the last year and a half. Zoom Video Communications, commonly known as Zoom, is a video conferencing software available to businesses and individuals. It may seem like Zoom appeared right along with the coronavirus, but Forbes reports that “the pandemic crisis simply accelerated Zoom’s already robust growth” (Dooley, 2020). According to Okta’s 2020 Businesses at Work report, Zoom was the number one fastest growing video conferencing app as early as 2016 and has achieved a remarkable 876% growth in number of customers (2020). 

I used a questionnaire to research the user experience of Zoom meetings. 46 responses were recorded. Respondents ranged in age from 16 to 62 years old. A mix of fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice and scaled questions were asked. Participants were asked about the frequency and nature of their Zoom use and their satisfaction with various features and components. The purpose of this questionnaire was to explore the differences in behavior when Zoom is used for school/work purposes vs. social purposes, how Zoom use varies between users of different ages, how often specific features of Zoom are used and users’ satisfaction with the technology, its features and its reliability.

84.8% of respondents reported finding participating in social conversations easier in person than via Zoom. 76.1% of respondents reported finding participating in school or work conversations easier in person than via Zoom. This strong preference for in-person interaction serves as evidence for Zoom fatigue, which is a widespread phenomenon that Tanesha White defines as exhaustion you feel after any kind of video call or conference (2021).  In fact, when asked what about Zoom they would change if given the chance, many respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the need for Zoom’s services over the last eighteen months. “The product itself is fine! I’m just tired of it,” wrote one respondent. Other responses included “To not need it anymore” and “Just wish it wasn’t necessary.” These results reveal that most people’s most fervent wish for Zoom is to not have to use it so often. To this point, there is little Zoom can do in terms of altering their technology. Instead, Zoom should focus on making user-experience as pleasant as possible so that for times in which in-person meetings are not possible, Zoom remains the chosen communication platform. 

One difference that emerged from the questionnaire is that people tend to prefer to have their camera off during school or work Zoom meetings and their camera on during social Zoom meetings. 52.2% of respondents prefer to have their camera off during school or work Zoom meetings and 89.1% prefer to have their camera on during social Zoom meetings. This suggests that users are more willing to be seen and perceived by people they are interacting with for social reasons. Similarly, people tend to prefer to have their microphone off during school or work Zoom meetings and their microphone on during social Zoom meetings. 78.3% of respondents prefer to have their microphone off during school or work Zoom meetings and 65.2% prefer to have their microphone on during social Zoom meetings. These results inspire an idea for a user-centered redesign of Zoom meetings. One idea is to create “Zoom Social Mode” and “Zoom School/Work Mode.” Hosts would have the option to enable these modes prior to or during their meetings. Zoom social mode would automatically have the camera and microphone on for all participants. School/Work mode would automatically have the camera and microphone off for all participants.

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