Olark Feedback System
Redesigning a unique remote feedback system.
Introduction
Olark is a live chat software system aimed at making businesses human again by supporting their client’s live chats with sales, marketing, and customer support.
Through Berkeley Innovation in the Spring 2018 semester, I worked on a redesign of Olark's internal employee feedback system. I worked with David Aguilar, Kirra Dickinson, and Erika Jin on this project. We were mentored by Kathleen Hsu.

Our team collaborated with Olark’s Director of People Ops and Director of Product Design to redesign their entirely remote feedback evaluation system.
001
The Problem
Previously, the evaluation process occured on an annual basis. Their Google Form format was reported to be lengthy, tedious, and cumbersome. In a remote-first work setting, how do employees accurately gauge their work performance from their team members and manager?
Opportunity Areas
The scope of the project was to explore the needs of Olark employees in order to design an evaluation system that would elicit constructive feedback in a seamless manner. Areas we wanted to investigate: frequency of feedback, appropriate and engaging questions, and medium for giving and receiving feedback.
002
User Research
We conducted extensive research in order to better understand the experiences and needs of Olark’s employees by engaging in a variety of research methods:
Desktop Research
We familiarized ourselves with best practices regarding feedback design. We explored systems of feedback from other remote-based companies.
Internal Interviews
We conducted internal interviews with 12 Olark employees to better understand their experiences within the company and filling out evaluations.
External Interviews
To gain further insights into remote working conditions, we interviewed three employees from different remote companies.
Whiteboarding high-level insights with my team.
003
Synthesizing Insights
Key Insights
  • Olark’s company culture can sometimes feel overly positive, which hinders the ability to receive actionable, constructive feedback.
  • Due to the evaluation’s annual timing, peers don’t often know what to comment in addition to running into recency bias.
User Pain Points
  • Difficult to give feedback to peers outside of this annual evaluation form.
  • Process of consolidating feedback for managers is heavy-weight and time-consuming.
  • Many Olarkers do not reflect upon their feedback and lack actionable next steps to implement growth opportunity areas.
My team members and I consolidating and grouping user research.
003
Identifying Key User Needs
We then identified three key needs of Olark employees that we wanted to make sure to address in our solution.
Achievement
Olarkers need to feel accomplished and look back at the end of the day and be proud of and happy with their work.
Progress + Personal Development
Olarkers want to know that they’re improving as employees and are on the right track for what’s next.
Affiliation
Olarkers thrive on a sense of belonging to the company and others.
004
Low Fidelity Sketches
Objective
Brainstorm ideas for a new evaluation system that address the key needs of Olark’s employees
Methods
Rapid ideation session, Figure 8
Initial Ideas
  • Creating a feedback dashboard
  • Channels to promote frequent feedback
  • Forms to create actionable plans
005
Mid Fidelity Prototyping
Objective
Create a dashboard for Olarks evaluation system that would address their three key needs
Goals
  • Site architecture
  • Content and copywriting
006
Usability Testing
Throughout usability testing, a few key roadblocks became apparent:e
Unclear Expectations
Employees had trouble understanding why they had to complete an action. How was this relevant and how would it help them?
Question Format
Our initial assumption was that Olarkers wanted solely free response questions. However, we learned that this was hard to quantify when compiling the data or looking at trends over time.
Confusing Use Cases
We initially dedicated a huge portion of our prototype to a concept that incorporated meeting agendas with user goals. However, as we progressed through our user testing, we quickly saw that this format of combining user goals with meeting agendas didn't make much sense to Olarkers, so we had to scrap this idea. We ended up deciding to keep the goals accessible and personalizable to users.
We used this feedback to quickly pivot in the right direction and continued iterating on our designs.
007
High Fidelity Mockups
Feel free to play with our interactive prototype!
008
Reflections
Designing as a Team
Prior to joining BI, almost all of my design projects had been self-directed. The majority of my work was done by myself. It was a challenging transition to designing within a group setting. I definitely learned how to better take criticism and iterate as a team with multiple perspectives and stakeholders.
009
Acknowledgements
This project was in collaboration with Berkeley students David Aguilar, Kirra Dickinson, and Erika Jin. Thank you to our wonderful mentor, Kathleen Hsu! Additionally, a huge thank you to the incredibly positive and warm folks at Olark for their constant support and feedback throughout our design process. This was my very first semester in Berkeley Innovation, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and grow as a designer.