PowerPoint integrations

Building a seamless experience for presenters using slideware.

Solving problems at Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere is an engagement tool that allows presenters to capture audience feedback and display the results live.
Anytime we solve problems at Poll Everywhere, we need to consider three platforms. 
In this project, we are focusing on the PowerPoint experience.  From our PowerPoint app, presenters are able to insert a Poll Everywhere interactive slide into their slide deck. This interactive slide starts out as a “placeholder” slide.
Once the presenter starts the presentation, the interactive slide becomes active and is ready to collect responses from the audience.

The initial problems

  • Presenters cannot share poll results within the presentation deck with participants.
  • Presenters cannot review the poll visualization in their presentation while in normal view mode.
We knew this was a problem based on stakeholder discussions. They believed that presenters felt embarrassed to send out a deck with a Poll Everywhere “placeholder” slide.  This conflicted with our business objective of “acquisition by virality."  We wanted to provide a seamless experience within PowerPoint, and produce a deck that had value at all points in time.


The initial scope included user research and redesign of the PE (Poll Everywhere) PowerPoint app. 



I was the sole designer with a PM and 3 engineers.  Not having a dedicated researcher, I facilitated and lead the research initiative as well.

Interview insights

The goal of the interviews was to find out how our presenters used Poll Everywhere before, during, and after a presentation.
The research initiative included qualifying interviewees based on their Poll Everywhere and PowerPoint usage. We then interviewed 10 participants, segmented into our targeted types of accounts (corporate and university accounts). We also included a basic usability test on how they used Poll Everywhere slides with PowerPoint.
What we discovered were presenters needing to switch back and forth between PowerPoint, the desktop app, and the web app at various points. We also found that many presenters would delete the placeholder slide before sharing their deck.


Points of switching

points of switching

The big problem

Presenters have to switch back and forth between the desktop app, the web, and PowerPoint to complete a presentation.
Why is this a problem? While our desktop app offers the ability to create and insert Poll Everywhere polls, 70% of interviewees create polls on polleverywhere.com and 80% insert through the plugin. Already, we’re setting them down a path to switch contexts. So if we’re encouraging them to share their deck with others, some of them will look to the website and others will look to the app.
One of the main expected benefits of downloading the PE desktop app is the increased functionality. When presenters realize they still need to go to PE's website, the desktop app’s expectation of usefulness decreased.
old user journey

The approach

I facilitated a mapping of our presenters' journeys in order to identify pain points.  We found the biggest pain point when editing Poll Everywhere content.  Anytime a presenter needed to edit a Poll Everywhere slide from PowerPoint, she would need to go to polleverywhere.com and change the content there.
Imagine if she was reviewing her deck, and for each typo, she would have to switch out of PowerPoint and into her browser to go through the editing process online.  Frustrating!
Through the research, we identified a handful of “low cost, high impact” problems to solve and ship, with Editing being one of the most prominent ones.

How to get there

Our PowerPoint app allows our presenters to embed Poll Everywhere content into their deck.  The vision of the app is for presenters to have a streamlined experience when using PowerPoint.

Some challenges

  • How do we make editing easy to understand for new presenters?
  • How can we ensure we’re not disrupting the workflow for our existing presenters?
  • Should we position ourselves as a standalone app or plug-in?
  • Does this work for Mac and Windows?
  • Can we also make this compatible for Google slides?
  • How will the design support older versions? Our philosophy is to support all versions above the 1% usage threshold.
This is what the app looked like before the project.  When a presenter fired it up they would only be able to create a new poll or insert an existing poll into PowerPoint.

Early versions

While this case study focuses mostly on editing, I needed to incorporate functionality (such as poll previewing and poll screenshots) included in the web version and show how that might work in the app.


Edit in a tool bar
edit early version-1
It was difficult to understand the difference between action and navigation. It was also not clear that the presenter should select the polls before they could access some actions.


Edit inline
edit early version-2
The icon wasn’t immediately understood and easily missed.  Navigating between states and pages wasn’t clear.

The design

One of the biggest challenges of this design was to ensure we could pair it down in order to ship in the quarter, and build towards the full design in the future.
Edit (full) is the full design, allowing the presenter to fully edit her content within the PowerPoint app.  All of the edit functionality from the web app has been ported over. The mocks below shows what happens after a presenter clicks “Edit”.
Edit (lite) is the MVP, which allows us to provide value to our presenter in a short time frame. We know the presenter usually needs to update the content (over configuration options), so we decided to isolate that flow.  Again the mocks below show what happens after a presenter clicks “Edit”.
Additional states in order to support the core design.
By giving the presenter the ability to edit from our PowerPoint app, this allows her to stay within the context of PowerPoint, and not having to rely on switching to the web app.  This is one of the first steps in creating a seamless experience with our PowerPoint app.

Why this project?

This project doesn’t have ground-breaking technology involved, nor does it showcase shiny visual design skills. However, this is one my favorite projects at Poll Everywhere because of the challenges involved along the way.
The small PowerPoint team had an appetite for design.  Unfortunately, our engineers were remote and we had a shortage of designers on hand. This meant that engineers didn't always have a designer paired up with them at all times.
When I was placed on the project, we decided to do user research, giving the engineers a foundation of user empathy that would persist beyond the current project.
I am most proud of the process I built around the project. Setting the pace and tone for the research, checking in with stakeholders, and making sure our PM and engineers were involved in the process was critical to its success.
My motivation was not only to facilitate more user empathy and better team collaboration, but the trends we were seeing contradicted our stakeholders' expectations.  Because of this, their involvement throughout the process was necessary for me to justify my design decisions.  It felt great to see the team have each others' back and defend the research and it felt like a true team effort.