People Atlas

Creative Identity Expression Social Product

Get Inspired, Create, Share.

Microsoft's People Atlas was a Microsoft initiative aimed at enhancing creative and identity expression by leveraging the contacts in the People app, along with usage data within the Windows Creators Edition app suite.

The business goal was driving the value of the Windows Creators Edition app ecosystem by designing and creating a new experience that connects the value propositions of creative identity, inspiration and expression.


Understanding our UsersThe process began with conducting user research across the East and West coasts to understand the drivers, methods, and values creators placed on identity and sharing ➀. Through interviews and surveys, key insights emerged: creators valued authenticity online and offline, control over messaging and identity curation, and a strong desire for creative collaboration and sharing ➀.

With these insights, we identified opportunities to extend traditional social media actions into creative inspiration and collaboration spaces.

Principles, value statements, the one-line concept, and top 5 customer promises ➀ were established to set the creative vision and drive product design execution. Experience framing workshops ➁ defined interaction types, while high-level user flows mapped connections between the People app and the Microsoft Creator ecosystem ➂.

➀ User research, principles and value proposition
➁ Experience framing workshops
➂ Integration of the People Atlas and the MS Inbox apps

Designing and Building a System In parallel, we worked on content structure by establishing grids, color palettes, typography hierarchies, ➃ layout rules, and content variations ➄ for the card model focused on personal identity, content sources, remixing permissions, and more. 

Significant effort went into a clear design direction for representing various media types across viewports and platforms like mobile, desktop, and AR/VR, accounting for the user-generated nature of assets.

➃ Typography rules, hierarchy and color palettes
➄ Card layout rules, and content variations
➅ Style brainstorming wall and design direction selection

System AssemblyWith card types, orientations, layouts finalized, we assembled and styled page layouts ➅➇ encompassing various states; from rest mode to browsing and auto-updates.

Wireframes ➆ outlined the system's data infrastructure for the engineering team. Close collaboration with developers ensured precise layout construction ➇  in preparation for user validation testing and the executive concept gate review.

➆ Wireframes and feed layout
➇ Card layouts (front and back)
Hololens and desktop activity screen + feed layout
➈ Final user home and feed dynamic screen assembly

TakeawaysWe delivered a successful concept, backed up by user insights that addressed all the requirements for success.

Having passed the Executive Concept Gate Review, we obtained approval and funding to produce the One-Line-Concept video (see above) to complement the functional prototype. This step marked the transition of the project from concept into production and underscored the project vision clarity.

1 picture = 1000 words.
1 video / 1 prototype = 1000 meetings.


Concept Value Validation

The designed solution tested well, passed the executive concept evaluation, go/no go gate and we were able to build a great part of the proposed system.

Thesis validated:
Identity + expression = value.

User Testing Validation

Two 12-user positive qual tests.
Linked services prototype built.


System built to 80%.
Group reorganized, all Windows team reassigned to Office / Azure.