Jan – Aug. 2014 (8 Months)



Michael Loffredo
Austic McCasland
Angela Ren
Xiaoyue Wang


Experience Design
User Research
Interaction Design
Service Design
Project Management


Literature Review
Competitive Analysis
Contextual Inquiry
Guided Storytelling
Survey Methods
Heuristic Evaluation
Affinity Diagramming
Iterative Prototyping
Wizard-of-Oz Testing
Usability Testing
Speed Dating
Adobe InDesign



Due to the proprietary nature of this project, I cannot discuss this project in full detail. If you'd like to hear more, please let me know, and I would love to talk more in person.

The Business Problem

As a world leader in networking and telecommunications, Cisco had built up a large collection of secure and trusted collaboration hardware and software (e.g. conference products, Jabber, etc.). In search of a new future and vision for their massive collaboration portfolio, Cisco approached Team Axon for a solution that leverages of all of their assets.

The Customer Challenge

To enable people to interact with one another as naturally through technology as they do in person.


The project was 8 months long and partitioned into two halves, with the first half involving user research and envisioning solutions and the latter half encompassing an iterative design process towards a working solution prototype.

The Research


Per my suggestion, our team executed on an iterative, agile research strategy. We crafted a set of initial research questions, conducted a round of user research to answer them, synthesize findings, and repeated. 

I suggested such a strategy because our clients at Cisco deliberately requested a broad, open-ended challenge with no limitations to the target audience, technological medium, and user contexts. An iterative research plan with targeted research questions allowed us use synthesized findings from real data to naturally narrow down the scope without the potential risk of losing valuable data when arbitrarily cutting scope.

In retrospect, the only thing that I would have done differently is to urge the team to hit the ground running sooner with the research. I learned from this project that time is invaluable, and user research does not necessarily have to be as perfectly structured to learn about users (there is diminishing marginal utility to rules and processes).



using the following research methodologies:

  • contextual observations
  • guided storytelling
  • interviews
  • affinity diagrams
  • dual-remote observations
  • guerrilla research
  • knowledge mining
  • heuristic evaluations
  • guided think-alouds

Over the course of the 4 months of research,
Team Axon:

  • reviewed 31 research papers
  • analyzed 12 competitors
  • analyzed 71 survey responses
  • observed 37 people across many domains
  • gathered 900+ data points





    To make sense of the hundreds of data points we gathered, we spent many hours interpreting and synthesizing the data with affinity diagrams and models.

    Given our emphasis on emotional experience of collaboration, we found affinity diagrams to be the most helpful in interpreting our data points. Other process-oriented synthesis models like flow models and sequence models helped us map the emotional experiences to the collaborative process. In hindsight, the team would have benefitted greatly from taking one more step and creating user journey maps to better communicate the pain points in mobile collaboration.


    Designing a Solution


    At the conclusion of the research, the team presented our process and our findings to our clients and then spent time brainstorming solutions to the problems we uncovered. Throughout the design process, we checked in with our clients on a regular basis to field their questions and gather their feedback.




    Since determining our final vision, we iteratively prototyped our solution. We started with sketches on whiteboards, validated those concepts through user tests. Incorporating what we learned from user tests, we created paper prototypes, and again tested them with a representative, pre-screened user group. Finally, we worked our way up to a high-fidelity, experiential prototype at our studio and tested it with real people to validate that our solution solves users' needs the way the team designed.


    By the end of the project and delivery of our prototype for Cisco's future of mobile collaboration, clients provided with an overwhelmingly positive feedback. The following are two direct quotes from our clients following our final presentation:

    “I did not know exactly what solution to ask for in the beginning, but now that I see it I know it is what we need.”
    “Axon envisioned a future for Cisco products that is far enough ahead of the work that we are doing now that it can be attainable without being so far away that is unbelievable.”

    3 years later, our work continues to fuel and serve as the foundation for Cisco's efforts on the digital collaboration front, as seen in the growth of Cisco Spark and the latest addition, the Spark Board.