Viva Insights

Implementing a design system for adaptive email

  • Microsoft — Viva Insights
  • 2020 - 2022
  • Unified Design Vision
  • Executive Presentations, Storytelling
  • Low and High-Fidelity UX/UI Mocks
  • Design System
  • Unified Architecture
  • Rapid Prototyping
  • Usability Testing
  • Engineering Handoff
  • Implementation Support

What is adaptive email?

Adaptive email is one of the core features of Microsoft’s employee engagement platform — Microsoft Viva. The email leverages AI and adaptive technology to help users be prepared for their work day and is responsible for a large part of Microsoft Viva’s inbound engagement.

Users receive a unique daily email with actionable meetings, tasks you may have missed, and instant ways to block off time in your day for focus or wellbeing breaks and activities, among other things. Learn more


Design Challenge

Challenge #1 / How can we help people to reduce stress and prioritize their wellbeing by promoting awareness and discovery of features in Viva Insights?

Challenge #2/ 10 Years ago, email was the cornerstone of many an information workers’ workflow, but in recent years many email clients have become cluttered with spam and subscriptions, and the rise of collaboration software like Teams, Zoom and others have moved much of the workforce into other spaces. The pandemic has only accelerated this migration. Within this landscape, how do we get users to not only try, but begin to rely on adaptive email as a useful assistive companion to their productivity and wellbeing?

Challenge #3 / Designing for email can be notoriously tricky. Each email client parses styles differently, and many styles which have been supported on the web for years remain unsupported in email clients. To add complexity to this, most software is now available in dark mode — but the email body in many clients is ignored when dark mode is initiated, making for a broken experience.


Defining the vision

The first step to creating a unified and compelling strategy was to outline a vision for what this email could become and selling that vision to leadership. The next step was working closely with PM to build compelling assistive scenarios for the email that would help users to protect time in their busy days, stay connected and feel supported, especially when working from home.

This was possible through a series of workshops, building a deck to socialize the vision across relevant teams, creating rapid prototypes of proposed scenarios, executing usability tests and working with research to test our assumptions and experiences, and finally to provide ongoing support to global engineering teams for the successful implementation of our best performing scenarios.

Building the design system

The breadth of scenarios and teams that would be utilizing these emails, as well as identified codependencies quickly brought to light the need for a unified design system. I worked to define an adaptive complaint component library and design system that could help to quickly establish other designers and teams new to the space and help PM to understand patterns, scenarios and limitations within the framework. I also worked to build out dark mode and mobile variations to further assist engineering in successfully implementing our scenarios across email clients and devices.


The effort to develop an assistive email companion for Microsoft Viva has thus far been enormously successful, growing from a few thousand daily users to upwards of +20 million within its first year of open access. This is due to continued user listening and iteration, and prioritizing feature launches with the functionality that users are asking for.

Investments in Employee Experience are massive. Fueled by the pandemic, companies spend billions of dollars on collaboration tools, wellbeing apps, training and development offerings, and all forms of surveys, knowledge management, case management, and employee support. This massive industry is over $300 billion in size, and includes every major software vendor from ADP to Workday, Cisco, SAP, Oracle, ServiceNow, and hundreds more.

Learn more

Daily users
+ 20M
“Good health is good business.”

Paul Drechsler — CEO, Wates Group Limited
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