Scaling through Sharing

Founded in 2008, Poll Everywhere allowed presenters to host live polls for their audience. They focused on individual presentations and one time events. Throughout the years, more companies started to use Poll Everywhere more regularly, in classrooms, corporate trainings, and weekly events.

But Poll Everywhere was growing, and they needed to scale appropriately.


Through feedback from corporate training and event management clients (as well as some higher-ed) we have learned multiple complaints around the difficulty in sharing/sending polls to other people on their account


21 Steps to share

It’s very difficult to share polls with others in your organization, raising the entry-barrier for new users. It’s also impossible to present a poll that you do not “own.”

Often, enterprise clients have a single coordinator that creates polls for other presenters. Their challenging workflow takes 21 steps to present a shared Poll.

old flow-compressed

A sample of the 21 steps of instructions for new instructional designers to add activities into decks.


Make it easy for Enterprise to share and edit polls

Our goal is to make it easy for a customer to share polls and edit polls they’ve created to other Presenters on their team. 

We need our presenters to be able to present polls made by someone else.

easy sharing-compressed

Create a poll, send it to teammates, and have them able to present your poll.


Our hero, Bob

Bob is an instructional designer at Continental Airways. His job is to develop trainings for over 27,000 flight attendants.

Flight attendants are trained in several locations across the world, where each location has ~10 trainers presenting Bob’s PowerPoint deck.

Bob needs to build a deck embedded with polls and send it out to those trainers across the world.


Continental Airways has multiple trainers in several locations across the world Bob has to send the presentation to.


How will we determine success?

Raise presenter count-4
Increase response-4
Reduce time on task-5


Why I was brought on

There were past designers who had rolled on and off this project. There were also decisions made that we couldn’t go back on.  But the Enterprise team was at an impasse, so they brought me on.

The team needed me to provide direction between two models: “Shared with me” and “Team Drive.” In the  “Shared with me” model, customers share polls or activities out individually. In the  “Team Drive” model, everyone inside the environment is automatically granted sharing access to all content.

My objective was to: 

  1. Analyze which direction would be best for our customers,
  2. Come up with interaction flows, to get a feel for the experience.


Analyzing the space

Sharing content isn’t a new concept, and so we needed to ensure that Poll Everywhere was exploring common ways to share.

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A breakdown of popular sharing services.

We learned how other products facilitate and encourage sharing.  In a nutshell, one can share by inviting someone else to view or edit (depending on level of access granted) a file or group of files. Now we needed to translate this into Polls.

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Shared with me and Team Drive in Google Drive (Credit: Google Images/Sienna College).

Translating into Polls

Now that we have a mental model of what both “Shared with me” and “Team Drive” could offer, I applied it to Bob’s use case.

Creating Polls

Bob needs to be able to create Polls, download them from the web, and insert them into his powerpoint deck. From there, he emails out the deck to the Airline Trainers across the world so they can present that deck.

User flow – Shared with me – Create-comp

"Shared with me" creation flow

User flow – Team Drive – Create-comp

"Team Drive" creation flow

Editing Polls

What about editing?  Editing is a more painful experience for Bob.  In the old model, even small typos were a nightmare. Bob would have to go through each Poll, make the change, download, insert the new poll, delete the old poll, for each of the decks he sent out.

User flow – Shared with me – Edit-comp

"Shared with me" edit flow

User flow – Team Drive – Edit-comp-2

"Team Drive" edit flow

What we learned

At a high-level, editing an individually shared poll on the “Shared with me” model is faster, but were the benefits worth foregoing what the “Team Drive” model brought to the table?

Metaphors and Mental Models

I still needed to understand the “why.”  Why Google Drive chose to implement these ways of sharing and if it applied to Poll Everywhere.

In order to better understand the models, I took a deep dive and “reverse designed” Shared with me and Team Drive.


Early ideation of Shared with Me and Team Drive

We weren’t tackling permissions and roles yet, but considering the enterprise road map, I needed to think about a future world where collaboration exists.

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Office building (left) and Movie house (right) representing sharing mental models. (Credit: Google Images)


A breakthrough moment came during one of my brainstorming sessions. We came up with the metaphors of an office building and a movie theater to explain the roles and interactions for the two models in terms of Poll Everywhere.

Shared with me:

First, we conceptualized  “Shared with me” as an office building with a keycard system.

In a nutshell,


Here, Polls are offices, and Presenters are employees.  Employees can go into the same office if the Owner or Manager allows them inside.  Everyone inside the offices is affected by the changes made by the Owner/Manager.

Team Drive:

In the Team Drive metaphor, we visualize a movie theater. We have a Viewer, Reviewer, Reeler, and Manager. Everyone can watch a film, but your role identifies what you can do.

movie house metaphor-comp-2

Essentially, Polls are films and Team Drives are movie houses.  You can have one or multiple films playing in a Movie house, and changed in and out and everyone in that Theater will be affected.

The main difference

In a movie house, you want more people to fill the seats and watching the film.  In the office building, you’d want to regulate who has access to each room.  So relating that to Polls, a “Team Drive” wants more people within the space working on Polls without an admin monitoring.  A “Shared with me” model would only let Poll owners and admins the ability to let someone into their office.


Part of what makes Poll Everywhere so special is that it works well inside PowerPoint presentations.

We do this with a desktop app that runs on the laptop while a presentation is taking place.  Aside from allowing the presenter to use  PowerPoint, she can also manage her Polls with this app.

Resizing the viewport

I wanted to ensure that a Team Drive experience made sense on this platform, and wouldn’t be a large deviation from the web experience. This involved resizing the viewport, and altering the navigation.


The original viewport size was 800x600 and received an increase in width.

Conceptualizing the Desktop app

Increasing the viewport size was long overdue as more customers started using higher resolution screens. Adding a sidebar was necessary in order to navigate through the Drives.  In a Shared with Me world, a sidebar is less necessary if Presenters could navigate through the header. 

Team activities for Desktop concept-no-title-compressed


Making the call

I was close. With this information we discovered that Shared with Me makes it faster to present, compared to the Team Drive model.  The team also realized we did not envision a world where teams could always edit each other’s Polls. 

I highlighted these pros and cons to inform which direction to move our Enterprise offering.

Shared vs Team – Pros and cons-compressed

Benefits and Drawbacks for the two sharing models.


Sealing the deal

At a high level, “Shared with Me” seemed to make the most sense, but we still needed to see how it felt. What might a collaborative future look like? How would Presenters actually distribute their Polls faster?

"Team Drive" flow

Team Drive – Final lo-fi flow

Team Drive flow within Poll Everywhere.

Create team drive-comp

Team Drive creation

Customers create a Team Drive where all members who have access can view and edit each other’s Polls. Admins can create multiple Team Drives on the account.  

Move experience-comp

Moving Polls

Customers can move Polls in and out of Team Drives, and team members will gain or lose access to that Poll automatically.

Edit loop-comp

Editing a shared Poll

If an Admin wants to make or change a poll, they have to  inside of each Team Drive.

“Shared with me” flow

Ultimately, this was the direction we chose.  It’s simpler, and Presenters (like Bob) can create their Polls and any changes would automatically update across all presentation decks.

Shared with me – Final lo-fi flow

Shared with Me flow within Poll Everywhere.

Two paths-comp

Two main experiences

Customers have two distinct experiences for sharing Polls: 
1) inviting someone to present your polls, and 2) someone inviting you to present their polls.

Editing restrictions-comp

Editing restrictions

Only admins and Poll owners can edit a shared Poll. This makes it easy to control what content is shown by the presenter.


Faster distribution means more accounts

The project was still ongoing before I rolled off, but early customers (like Bob) were excited when shown a prototype of the new flow.  I expect that the reducing the amount of steps significantly would lead to an easier task of sharing and presenting polls. 

Had I still been on the project, I would expect to see an increase of poll creators and presenters due to the nature of sharing a poll to someone who doesn’t have an account.  The more presenters, the more results.

86 task reduction-comp

Unblocking the path

Paving the way for Product was the biggest impact. The decision would not only affect future releases, but also business strategy for months, and even years to come. 


Not the typical project

Every project is a little different, and as a product designer, I’ve learned to be flexible with what comes my way. Evolving my process based on the project needs is a fun challenge within itself. Here’s what I learned:

Metaphors are powerful

I’ve integrated metaphors into my process before, but not at this scale. Being able to use metaphors for complex systems makes it so much simpler to establish guidelines and rules. Not to mention, they create a common language within the team, making communicating a complex idea much easier. 

Working within constraints

Coming into the project, there was a lot of previous work done and prior decisions made, which defined much of my sandbox. I found that this pushed my problem solving capabilities, forcing me to go deeper into the problem, versus carving out an easy path on the surface.

If I had more time,

I’d want to measure and iterate on the flow, finding any gaps in the experience.  One potential area of exploration would be the experience of the receiving presenter in “Shared with me.”