The challenge

When Microsoft migrated from Workplace Analytics (WPA) to Viva Insights, one of the most important features that customers needed in the new platform was Partitions.

Partitions helps an administrator create a sub-workspace with support for targeted analyses and methods of sectioning off parts of their organisation for analysts to work on. We wanted to enable them to create such partitions in the most easy and effective way possible.

Partitions homepage

As of Feb 2024, Partitions is now generally available, and it has helped unblock the migration of our strategic and active customers (1.5+ mn licenses) to the updated platform. At the time of writing, 70+ tenants are using Partitions and have created more than 125 partitions.

TLDR, to enable administrators to create partitions in Viva Insights while adhering to privacy standards and platform constraints.

Understanding the existing platform

I started off by looking at how Partitions worked in Workplace Analytics (WPA). This gave me a better understanding how an administrator approached this feature and what their painpoints were. A typical partition assignment included 4 major steps. I was to focus on the CRUD experience of the feature, keeping usability and design finesse in mind.

1. Create partition
When a new analyst is joining the team, an admin wants to create a customised partition and only provide the required data to them such that they follow the privacy standards set by their firm.

Hover over the image to see insights.
2. Select employees
To filter the right employees so that it is easy for the admin to section off to the analysts.

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3. Select attributes
To select the right attributes and pick how that attribute should be shown to the analyst.

Hover over the image to see insights.
4. Select analysts
To find the right analysts and assign them the partition.

Hover over the image to see insights.

Measuring usability through SUS

One of the key decisions which we had to make was to go forward with the current step-by-step wizard or design a new single pane wizard.

For evaluating this, we conducted an unmoderated user testing on and used System Usability Scale testing. For the uninitiated, it’s a widely used method for evaluating the usability and user-friendliness of a system or software application. SUS testing involves surveying users and asking them to rate the system’s usability based on a standardised questionnaire. The results are then analysed to assess the overall user satisfaction and usability of the system.

The test had 10 questions laid out, where they had to mark between 5 points from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree.

For odd-numbered, positively worded questions,
1 is subtracted from the respondent’s score.

For even-numbered, negatively worded questions,
the score is equal to 5 minus the score given by the respondent.

Finally, this total is multiplied by 2.5 to obtain an average SUS score between 0 and 100.

From the above sheet, you can see that people preferred single pane wizard over the step-by-step wizard.

Partition switcher

When an analyst handles multiple partitions, they need an easy way to switch between them. Thus, we needed a switcher. Our surveys indicated the side navigation as the ideal location for the switcher.

A dropdown was the best option as it easily lays out multiple items in a list. Description was also added with every partition so that it's easier for the user to identify what partition it is.


However, the challenge was to differentiate partition-specific pages from global pages to avoid confusion. We had multiple iterations for this. In the end, we decided to go with a simple horizontal line between the pages to make it as easy as possible for the admin to understand without complicating the navigation.

Toggle and onboarding

The final part of our puzzle was figuring out how to let admins enable Partitions for their tenant. The tricky part over here is that, once Partitions is enabled, analysts will have to be manually assigned to at least one partition to work on Viva Insights and conduct analysis. This is a shift in paradigm for the admins as before Partitions, any analyst who was assigned Viva Insights in the Microsoft Admin Center, will automatically get access to all data.

Educating our admins about this change without adding too much friction (so that our admins don’t get scared of the feature and decide not to use it :3 ) was our final hurdle before GA.

We first tried out a modal experience when the user first landed in the page. This explains what partitions is and how the analyst onboarding experience has been changed. We realised from our user testing that they rarely read the body text, especially when its this long.

Moreover, the info is only conveyed to the admin if he enters the ‘Partitions’ homepage. This would lead to confusion to admins who may have not visited the page.

We then explored an experience where the admin can enable the setting through the Partitions homepage. This gives the admin an explicit message on what will happen when Partitions is enabled for their tenant.

The problem with this approach was since Partitions is an opt-in feature and is a highly data-sensitive one at it, the team did not prefer the idea of keeping the Partitions tab easily accessible.

This brought us to the final experience which got shipped. Over here, the user has to navigate to Privacy settings and toggle on Partitions to enable it for their tenant. Once toggled, the user will be presented with a info modal, which explains how it will affect the tenant.

Finally, as an additional measure, the user has to click on ‘Save changes’ to confirm the enablement of the feature.

Final designs

It took almost close to 3 months to create, iterate and deliver these designs. The development took close to 18 months to finish. Partitions taught me a lot about how things work inside Microsoft, and more so about the industry.
The homepage encompasses the list of all the partitions created by the admin. The banner takes only adequate space and leaves room for the admin to focus on the list of partitions created by them. The admin can also filter different partitions using the pills above the list, and he can also sort the list from the table. A search is also provided to the admin in case there's a huge list of partitions and he has to find the right now.

If the admin wants to create a new partition, he can click on the button above the Search and get started with the Wizard.
Filtering employees
Since from the SUS testing, we found out that a single page experience is better, our Create a Parititon wizard is made to be scrollable.

The filters pane now improved, by adding a nesting selector. The visibility of the measured population is also drastically improved by grouping it under the filters itself. The user can also rearrange each filter, which was previously not possible.
Selecting attributes
The attributes are now shown in pills, through which the admin can easily see what they have selected without having to scroll an endless list.

Clicking on 'Add attributes' opens a flyout where they can easily find the right attribute he's looking for.
Assigning analysts
The last step of the wizard is to select the analysts which will have access to this partition. The pills here is different from the attribute pills to show that these are people pills.

Similar to the attributes flyout, the user flyout helps the admin find the right analysts for the partition, by providing identifiable elements like avatars and email addresses.