Unite.ly Messaging


Unite.ly is a digital house for collabortion. You can set up your team, or instance, to share files, post content in the feed, message, and video call users, set up a daily calendar, training modules, and signable forms.

This product works similarly to Microsoft Teams and Office 365.

A current project that I am working on is to improve our messaging feature.

Unite.lys messaging feature is the most used feature inside of the application. This feature helps to communicate with other team members.

Users inside of an instance can relay messages towards a group chat or an individual chat.




November 2021 - Ongoing

Searching Through The Chat Thread

The main client that we have at the moment is Utah Foster Care.

I was fortunate enough to go into their office to gain feedback on any of the issues that they had.

I noticed that they were using the search functionality to find images, attachments, users within the chat thread.

We wanted to visually display options of content for the user that they were searching for. The search functionality is only for keywords within the text thread. It is difficult to find a file when the user does not know the name or forgets where that file is in the chat thread.

Gaining their feedback, I added images, attachments, and saved messages within the chat bar next to the search functionality. This way the user now has access to any attachment, saved messages, or scheduled messages within the chat thread.

Searching For Contacts

A use case that we had was that we had two options to start a conversation. You would either start a new conversation with an individual or create a group chat. The second option was to go to the contacts page and start an individual conversation.

Users were confused about the two available options. One started a group chat and the other would start an individual chat. Also, if I were to create a group chat with one individual, that would then create a completely new conversation and would not revert to our previous conversation.

I decided to focus on the search capability rather than the user going to two separate options or commands to either start or look for previous conversations.

The user would now search for a single user, group chat, or a user inside of a group chat. The user would then click on the presented options to either begin or continue a conversation.

Attachments in Chat Thread

Out of the feedback that I had with Utah Foster Care, a big concern for them is that they would not remember a particular file name or could not find an attachment throughout the thread. They would have to keep scrolling throughout the conversation to find that particular attachment.

I wanted to have all of the attachments inside of the conversation available for the user to find. One way we could accomplish this is to store all of the attachments in one place. Here the user can:

  • View details.
  • Download.
  • Copy a version to their library.

Saved Messages

Utah Foster Care users were not sure on how to search for messages that had certain content. They could only use certain keywords that they would have had to remember in order for them to find a specific message.

Users needed a way to save messages that are important, or you need to refer back to, or messages that contact information you want to refer back to.

If the user were to save a message, the user can now:

  • Reply to a saved message. This will give the user the ability to easily reply back to a message.
  • View the original message inside of the chat conversation.
  • See which messages are saved in the live chat conversation.

Scheduled Messages

We had certain feedback on the ability to have a scheduled message.

I work with an international development team in Eastern Europe. This functionality would be helpful for someone that is in a different time zone.

An example would be if I am up at 2 am and wanted to send a message to another user, I could schedule that message to arrive at a certain time without bothering that user and such a late hour.

The user can:

  • Schedule out a message to arrive at a certain time zone.
  • Select a specific date for that message to be sent out.
  • Ability to edit the scheduled message.
  • Reschedule a message.
  • Send the message directly out.


The biggest concern was trying to come up with better result criteria for searching for a contact. I was going back and forth on how sensitive this content would appear if the user were to just type an "A".

I initially had the search to only search the first name and the group name. After reaching out to our users, we noticed that they were actually searching for the last name rather than the first name.

When it came to chat groups, the initial thinking was to only search for the chat group name title and not the individuals that were in the chat group conversation.

With our feedback and help from the development team, I started to revise our initial approach towards this process. What I choose for our search functionality:

  • Divide groups and individual users into two separate columns.
  • Display user's first and last name alphabetically.
  • Display group chats by either the title or group members that match the search criteria.
  • For a group chat, display the user who created the group chat followed by how many users are assigned towards that group chat.

Overall Conclusion

The messaging feature inside of Unite.ly is the most used feature by users on a daily basis. It was previously designed to do only have direct messages to either an individual or a group chat.

I am proud to see the evolution of this messaging feature. It is now so much more than a DM back and forth. Now users can save, schedule, and view content in a better experience. We had to take a simple concept and shape that into a tool that is more intuitive for the user to explore content.