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MSN Portal Concepts

Date 15 July 2004

Method, Inc. Confidential

Method


The task

At the end of this project, we will be delivering three concepts for two scenarios for MSN: a solution for the “main” MSN network, plus a “slimmed down” version that can be automated for delivery to international audiences. For this delivery, however, we want to focus on a broader set of “big ideas.” Each of them has implications for the different MSN entry points and for internationalization (which we can discuss), but at this early point in the process, we’d like to focus on a broader picture, presenting new ideas for what MSN might become as an internet portal.

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Personas

To provide a concrete sense of the audience we were designing for, we created several personas representing MSN users, both of the “tech elite” and of some members of the “default MSN” audience we wanted to keep in mind as others who would be affected by the redesign. Please meet Chris, Jonathan, Scott, Arturo, Anna, and Heather.

Chris “I couldn’t imagine life without my computer and cell phone. How did people do anything before?” Age: 24 Location: San Francisco Profession: office IT support

Jonathan “Communication is the soul of my job, and I’m tied to my email and my cell all day. When I get home, though, I’d rather watch sports and work around the house.” Age: 38 Location: Minneapolis Profession: Marketing

Anna “The Web is fun. I love the celebrity gossip, the “10 things to do to drive your worst enemies crazy” stories, all that stuff. I couldn’t get through a workday without IM. I f only I could email my friends WHEREVER they were!” Age: 29 Location: Austin Profession: Office manager, local insurance company

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Personas

Arturo “The computer is my whole job. Without it, worldwide business wouldn’t be possible. And it doesn’t hurt my love life, either.” Age: 34 Location: Barcelona Profession: Financial analyst, multinational corporation

Scott “When I’m not at school, I’m on my computer. My music, my games, my social life are all there.” Age: 18 Location: Rochester Profession: Student (college freshman)

Heather “The computer lets me do the things I don’t have time for otherwise: stay in touch with friends, do some shopping, and find out about stuff like what to do about a child’s high fever.” Age: 26 Location: Evanston, IL Profession: Stay at home mom

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


User tasks

Using the five types of user needs/reasons to go on line you presented in your research, we began to brainstorm some of the types of actions and information users would need in each category. Communication Send/receive email Send/receive IM Network status (where are my friends) Create network, manage conflict info (groups) Share object Manage persona Receive alert Chat/discuss object Find new objects Set up meetings Publish to contacts Publish broadly Send to offline media Personals Staying informed (what do I need to know now?) News Collecting feeds Newsletters Calendar/schedule Alerts – mail, new postings, events Reminders – birthdays, appointments Receive recommendations Where are my friends now (dodgeball) Nanny cam Monitor weather, news, stocks Serendipitous information (top searches) Local info (events calendar) Group info (professional/personal)

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


User tasks

Being Entertained Music Movie news/trailers/whole movies? Television (schedule/info) Celebrity news Games – hard-core & casual Porn Astrology Trivia Quizzes Purchasing or Selling Research the field/technology Get/compare prices Read reviews Posting items for sale Monitoring bids Contacting sellers Recommendations Payment Shipping Finding items – by type, by recommendation P2P network Finding discounts/incentives Services Renting Doing Research Find – understand/query/discard/filter Gather – catalog (arrange), annotate, validate Save (Use) Share Get recommendations Finish/act MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Task ranking

Next we analyzed how each of these personas might use the net, using the same five. The results mapped pretty closely to the research you found for the web at large and for the current MSN audience, with communicating, staying informed, and doing research at the top of the priorities.

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Big ideas

While doing these sketches, we uncovered several themes that informed our assumptions about all of the approaches we considered: Personalization should happen automatically We should take advantage of social filtering and algorithms to automatically make MSN’s content as relevant as possible. The scenarios shown here take advantage of that in various ways. The separate “my” page may be a thing of the past. All types of media and all modes of communication can come together at the Web portal The computer has become a general information hub, where people manage their work, their social lives, and even some family relationships. The internet is at the center of that, and the web portal can act as a general “information manager,” helping people make sense of the various threads of data coming in via web pages, email, instant messages, RSS feeds, and other sources. The Internet is great for finding information, but then what do you do with it? Current tools for managing incoming information—email inboxes, bookmarks—are inadequate to the task of managing information. People need to share, save, and combine the information they find on the net in ways they can’t do now. They need a better set of tools, and offering them in conjunction with MSN could create a compelling reason to use and stay with the service.

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Concepts

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Dashboard Concept 1

A high-density page, offering up-to-the-minute access to mail, friends, appointments, personalized news, and personal data Automatically customized through links to data in Microsoft desktop applications, as well as to data on the net Super-customizable through subscriptions: to free information (e.g., RSS feeds) or upgrade services (e.g., synchronization with Outlook)

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


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Human Filtered Networks Concept 2

The portal meets Amazon meets SlashDot Uses the power of social filtering to keep content relevant. The relevance of all your content (including search results) is improved as you build your network of connections and rate the content you see. Encourages participation: an easy-to-use rating system (thumbs up/thumbs down) is on every item, and rating items pays off by creating a hyper-relevant experience. As you build your network, your content becomes richer (think Amazon). Lists of recommendations and friendsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; favorites show up alongside subscribed news. Three panels slide to create different types of content: content categories, news, and personal information.

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Tools Concept 3

A set of indispensable tools at your fingertips throughout MSN â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or throughout the web More than a location, MSN becomes a way to collect, annotate, share, and most importantly, collect knowledge. Any type of action is possible. Grab more info about an item (instant search); leave a message on it for friends, clip it and save for later. Tools can be specific to the content (a name, a product, a location) and/or your location on the web (MSN/non-MSN). Many models are possible: toolbar? Right-click pop-up? Floating palette?

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Modes Concept 4

Based on the five types of user needs, or drivers: communication, staying informed, being entertained, shopping, and research. Users select a panel based on current need or intention at the moment. The interface is endlessly customizable. Users can change the actions on each panel, rearrange the panels to suit their own needs, and add their own panels to suit their own methods and modes. The files you click on in the interface open on an object panel, which provide tools for acting on the content youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re interacting with. Closing the content returns you to MSN.

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


Simple Concept 5

How do you out-Google Google? This concept pares the portal interface down to its simplest elements: Find, Share, and Organize. The objects of these verbs (the files you act on) are displayed in a series of cascading panels above the content, offering easy access to the full range of content and actions. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a complete interface under three verbs.

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004


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MSN as email Concept 6

Email is the killer app. It’s indispensable to everyone who uses the Internet. It’s the most common system of managing the influx of information. What if you could just extend that system to all the other kinds of information you use on the net? In this model, incoming information is extended into three categories: mail, news, and events. All information comes in the form of a “message.” To the left of the message is a set of categories: mail, news, event, and others you might create. To the right is a list of contacts. Together, it’s all you need to take in, save, or share the information. Unsubscribe, hold, and “more like this” actions on each “message” provide a quick way to customize your services.

MSN Concepts | Method, Confidential | 15 July 2004



MSN | Design Concepts