At Microsoft, I managed a team of designers that focussed on building
file experiences in Microsoft Teams, consumer & enterprise versions of Microsoft Lists, and features for the Microsoft 365 suite.
My work involved defining the product UX and strategy by working in close partnership with Leadership, Product Management, and Research teams. As a Manager, I was accountable to deliver high-quality products and building a culture of design excellence & better craft.
During my earlier years, I worked on OneDrive for Windows and mobile devices, and modernized the SharePoint Metadata
Admin Center (part of Microsoft Syntex), besides several features for Microsoft 365. A lot of this was foundational work for my team in India.
Microsoft Lists for web
Lists is a smart information tracking app, that can be moulded into anything from a simple to do list to a
complex inventory management system. The product has a tremendous usage and has existed within SharePoint in
some form since 2001.
My focus as the Lead Designer on the product was designing new list visualizations, building formatting
features, and driving the product charter. I joined the team, when it was just set up in India and I, as a
designer, was responsible to build credibility and be accountable to our global objectives. I started as an individual contributor on this product area, and later transitioned to the role of a Design Manager.
Today, our team
drives several key areas that have a direct impact on the 190M
Related: Read about me building Microsoft
Lists for iOS and Android. Improving UX Fundamentals
When I joined the team, it was early days of modernizing the product, and we were finding avenues to make the
product better. After listening to users and looking at feedback, I proposed that we should focus on improving
the fundamental user experience.
For example, the action to create a new column in a list was buried deep, and was missed by many users. I
designed a simpler way and made it contextual, so that users can find it easily and complete the task quickly. I
did a similar exercise with column
reordering, where users could just drag columns and drop anywhere on the canvas.
These changes and upgraded experiences helped drive more engagement and contributed to the overall user retention
in the product.
Low-code and no-code experiences
Lists had a vanilla way to display data. New JSON code-based features helped
users to highlight content and find data easily, but this was rarely being used
by novice users.
I believed that making this feature easier to onboard will drive engagement. So, I built easy-to-use templates
where, users could achieve with just a few clicks, what they did in JSON by writing several lines of code. This
feature was loved by users. I made sure there was an interop between the templates and code, so that users
can bootstrap on the WYSYWIG templates to write custom code.
My new design for conditional formatting
Elevating Microsoft Lists
In 2021, we launched a brand-new avatar of SharePoint Lists as Microsoft Lists. The product now elevated in the Microsoft 365 suite and surfaced in the
Office.com App launcher, creating a new funnel and a faster path to reach the product.
We used benchmark studies and continuous engagement with our users to improve the fundamental
experience of the product. I engaged the team in multiple review sessions to overhaul and polish the
experience to meet the new bar we had set.
The new Lists app in the Office.com App launcher and the new Lists Home.
I worked with partner teams to create the new design framework, accessible colour palettes, and theming for the
product. I spent a lot of time ensuring that the features I designed worked in various contexts and in
first-party integration scenarios in Teams.
As part of this, we introduced collaboration features similar to other Microsoft Office products. My major
contribution here was to align various design stakeholders from different teams on the visual design and
of the feature. This ensured minimal dependencies and faster ship times.
Collaboration features in Lists have been a major retention driver.
New views and visualization
Lists is a horizontal product and serves a varied number of scenarios and verticals. For many users, views
form an important part of their business workflows and collaboration.
I have worked on creating many new and novel visualizations for list data over the years. One of the key problems
solved here was aligning the new UX with existing mental models of users. I have always had a high focus on
and accessibility, and worked with Engineering to calibrate the processes to achieve this.
This was one of the earliest views I designed, and it was valuable
collaborating with designers from Microsoft Excel, Bing, and SharePoint to understand different card frameworks
and defining a new one for Lists. Beyond the view, the UX I made also has a card designer which gives users
control to customize their cards.
One of my major features was the Calendar view for users with scenarios
for event management and scheduling. I worked closely with the Outlook and Teams team to better
understand user behaviour in a calendar and designed an experience that worked for List users. I reused many
existing and familiar UX patterns from other Microsoft products, to help users onboard easily to the new
Calendar view for users with scenarios for event management and scheduling.
Board is the latest view, I designed, that caters to quick project and task
One of my main challenges here was mapping the List mental model to a Board. The feature underwent multiple user
and I worked on simplifying the content copy to be closer to user expectations. I worked with PM & Engineering
to come up with the
MVP strategy, where we used user jobs as the criteria to prioritize features.
Product development in enterprises can be a time-taking process, and it is necessary to ensure a high-quality bar
when building for millions of users
As a design owner, I am accountable for driving the cause of good UX and I could achieve this only through
tight collaboration with partner teams
Craftsmanship needs a methodical approach and as a Lead, I did the necessary tweaks in the product development process
to ensure a high quality bar
Telling right stories through prototypes or POCs is very important for buy-ins from the right stakeholders
Building accessibility right could take more time than the feature itself. I learnt this while designing a11y and keyboard navigation for features in Lists.