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With a lot of people now using video conferencing tools, there has been a lot of articles highlighting the usability of these applications.

Microsoft, which boasts a very large research and design team, has been getting a lot of criticisms around the tool bar that seems to be in the way, at least judging by the number of posts on their MS Teams UserVoice site:

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While it seems like something that should be easily picked up in any kind of user testing, the fact that it is still there suggests to me that there is either a technical constraint/reason why it is there, or if there is also a practical or user requirement reason why it is designed and implemented the way it is.

So my question is, is there a design benefit for a persistent tool bar on a video conference application window? Compared to other video conferencing applications, is there a reason or purpose for this design decision?

  • I think a bigger screenshot will help you get more answers :) I'm not using Microsoft for meetings. – Ionut May 22 at 17:05
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Users just don't need to do anything to hide the control bar.

As there is no reason to move the cursor until users want to interact with the controls, BY using Progressive Disclosure technique MS teams automatically hide for us to give a complete view of a video if the user is not moving their mouse.

Here persistence UI trains user mind to look for controls on that specific region. which eliminates time to recall where the control bar was moved.

Time is more important in professional meetings than the general family or friends meetups on video calling apps.

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  • +1 these are some pretty good reasons you have pointed out, although I still don't know why they don't give some users the option of moving it since it clearly does seem to be a usability issue. Have you used MS Teams and what is your thoughts on the toolbar's usability? – Michael Lai May 23 at 23:52
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    Yes, I use MS Teams but for me, I can't see it as usability issue. – Codesigner May 24 at 10:43
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+50

Followed the thread of anwer. It is not the usabilty issue. My perspective of explaination would be

  1. Yes, user needs and should be given freedom to control things he/she uses ( this is comfort of user and Behavioral processing of brain). This is the reason many users are uncomfortable. The intention is not to move it just because it is disturbing, they tend to try moving it because it is there and they did that previously in some other tool.

  2. They want to move it because it disturbs the content of the screen when presented. Now comes the failure to see the critical issue of not following the usabilty case scenario tests.

Either way, the user looses unless the company can find a perfect alternative for same price and feature. Till then, microsoft may take it into account and do something about it.

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