Author: Rob Pratt, Head of Product Development, 365Tribe

When first using an app, we focus on the basics. We want to be competent and efficient as soon as possible. Hopefully gaining benefits often referred to as โ€œquick winsโ€, including time savings, improved accuracy, better presentation, and other desirable outcomes.

After the initial quick wins and the surge of enthusiasm that comes with them, there is a danger of getting stuck in a rut, using just the same few features of the new app over and over again with little thought about how to improve and innovate on those features.

A healthy habit to form is revisiting the quick wins on a regular basis, consider any feedback other people have given you and your own perspective based on recent experience. Can your use of the features be improved on?

An example of this for me is an ongoing goal to make the Microsoft Teams that I own and use every day look beautiful. The teams I manage are visited by thousands of people each day.

The better a team looks; the more likely people are to interact with them and the more effective the work I do will be.

It might also mean I can use fewer apps to complete a task, for example in the past I have relied on SharePoint to present information. If I can make my Teams look better, I can simplify my work by using less SharePoint.

Here are a few simple ways that I have moved from the quick win of creating a team that works to the next level of enlightenment which is creating beautiful Teams ๐ŸŒˆ

Step 1 – Emojis ๐Ÿ‘ด

When faced with a page of information composed only of text it can be difficult to pick out the information you need. The awkward feeling you have when scrolling a page and not being able to instantly pick out the thing you need is a turn-off. Even if I am initially excited to look through a list of movies, after five minutes of scrolling if something does not jump out at me, I will give up and do something else instead. We do not want that to be the experience in our teams!

Windows 10 Emojis offer a simple way to use images without the hassle of sourcing, editing, and uploading images! (Not to be confused with the GIFs in Teams that are in some cases offensive enough to get you a visit from HR).

To insert a Windows 10 emoji, click where you want to use the emoji then use the key combination Windows + . (full stop).

Scroll through the list and select or type a word to search.

In Microsoft Teams emojis can be used just about anywhere!
๐Ÿ’ก There is huge potential to improve the look of our teams in minutes.

Channel names – prefix with an emoji to draw team members eyes to important channels.

If you have a channel for holiday requests, it should be law that the plane โœˆ๏ธ emoji is used.

Tip: We canโ€™t control the sequence of channels; I recommend adding a number at the start of your channel names to allow you to control the sequence.

Tab Name – yes you guessed it, emojis can also be used in your tab names!
Now the team is starting to look good!

Posts – If you have ever studied communication you will have seen these statistics โ€œbody language accounts for 55% of communicationโ€. We know there is a good deal of truth in this, for example, people that are a delight to deal with face to face can consistently seem harsh or short-tempered when contacted by email (sadly not all people are better in person).

An easy way to get back some of that communication power when using Microsoft Teams is to use emojis, not only in the structure of the team (Channel and Tab names) but also in the content. Emojis can be used in the title and the body of posts. A smile ๐Ÿ˜€ is a great way to establish the tone of a message being shared.

A final emoji tip, you can make them bigger! Some emojis donโ€™t work well at the default size, you just canโ€™t tell what they are (even with a vivid imagination). For a larger version of an emoji post just the emoji with no other text.

This example shows an emoji used as part of a reply that contains text, and then the same emoji used on its own line in a separate reply, its more than twice the size!

I challenge you to spend 10 minutes in one of your teams giving the Channel names and Tab names an overhaul with emojis! Links to the Team, Channels, and Tabs will still work after you add the emojis ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have even tried using emojis in the names of PowerAutomate flows and they still worked!

Step 2 โ€“ Announcements – Do you have something important to say?

What can you do to make a Teams post stand out among thousands of other Teams posts?

A colourful ๐ŸŒˆ way to elevate your post is to promote it from a Conversation to an Announcement!

One of the benefits of an Announcement is that it includes an option for Background image ๐Ÿ˜Ž

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-5.png

Microsoft recommends an image size of 918 x 120 (pixels) for the best results.

You don’t have to be that precise, try using one of your favourite photos and see how it looks in the preview.

๐Ÿ“ฑ When viewed on a smaller mobile device the left and right edge of the image will be cut off.

This example shows the same announcement image displayed on a PC and a mobile phone.

Anything important to people’s understanding of the Announcement should be positioned in the centre of the background image.

You can create an Announcement and add an image in just a few clicks.

Tip: Announcements can be huge with lots of content. The members of your team will only see the first four lines of text in your post before they need to make the decision to click See more, to view the rest of your post. Make sure you are savvy about what you include in those first four lines!  

Let us know which is your favourite emoji and if the members of your team comment on its facelift ๐Ÿ˜

Author: Rob Pratt, Head of Product Development, 365Tribe