Aaditya Ailawadhi
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Microsoft Internship

Microsoft Internship // Summer 2018 

Unfortunately, due to the nature of the work I am unable to present my project in its entirety. I’d love to talk more about my projects with you. Feel free to reach out anytime!

 
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In the summer of 2018, I was a UX Design Intern at Microsoft in Redmond, WA. My thesis revolved around the relationship between the Microsoft Edge Internet Browser, and Office Web Apps. As a designer on the Edge@Work team, my work centered around designing for the future of the workspace, and how Edge & Office Web Apps could help transform it.

 
 
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The process of working through a challenge so compelling was aided by the incredible support I had from my amazing team at Microsoft. My manager and mentor always made themselves available for feedback, critique, and even to just have a laugh.

 
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Microsoft Edge is an extremely powerful internet browser, and Office Web Apps are incredibly powerful productivity tools — How might they work together to create a profoundly unique and usable productivity experience in the cloud?

 

 

Research //

Of my 12-week internship, the first 3-4 weeks were spent conducting intense research. This consisted of Primary and Secondary Research, Phone Interviews, Conceptualization and Ideation, Critiques and brainstorming sessions. The purpose of my research was to identify the demographic with the highest potential to further explore.

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A breakthrough came about while exploring customers’ relationships with Microsoft and its products & services. Through the summer, I was constantly encouraged to explore the “larger story” by my manager. While thinking about this, I identified Middle and High-School students as a demographic rife for exploring. Through my research I was able to identify that this demographic is currently exploring its technology options, and for the first time in their user journeys, have autonomous control and ownership of their technology. To build a long-lasting relationship with these users would be the ideal design intervention for Microsoft, both from the point of view of exploring this rapidly changing environment (early education), but also to be able to create real productivity value for users, and business value for Microsoft.

 

 

Ideation & Conceptualization //

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Keeping Edge at the forefront of the design process and utilizing all the value a powerful internet browser like it provides led me to explore Office Web Apps’ utilitarian cloud possibilities with few limits.

 
 
 

An opportunity space I identified, which eventually drove the direction for my exploration, was sharing. My demographic’s user journeys all seemed to revolve around this key activity. Sharing is an integral part of the productivity experience. It forms the basis of decentralized teamwork, an identified fast-approaching scenario in the workplace as well as the models of education of the future.

 
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Final Design //

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Takeaways //

My internship at Microsoft was the summer of a lifetime. I could never have imagined being pushed so hard, learning so much, and having so much fun, all in just 12 short weeks. While there were a number of important lessons I took away from this summer, almost all of which I already find myself considering and integrating into my design practice, the one that stands out most is the value of working upwards.

In design school we are often given accelerated timelines and expected to create radically new redesigns in a short amount of time. While this “design sprint” style of creating work and learning about the challenges faced along the way is extremely valuable, an important part of the design process it leaves out is the fact that design takes time. Design happens in small parts that come together over time to create change.

When designing for millions of people, large changes can be overwhelming and interpreted in unintended ways. Not underestimating the value of small design changes leading to large impact and substantial value is key. This can be characterized by a Microsoft engineer’s own experiment with an A/B test — In 2012 an engineer on Bing slightly altered the way advertisement headlines were displayed, this resulted in higher visibility and clickthrough rates. This small design change increased revenue by an astonishing 12%—which on an annual basis would come to more than $100 million in the United States alone.

This fundamentally important realization is something I now see the value in when doing my own research and design work.