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This blog post is written by the Yammer Product Marketing Team. 

 

Beginning January 2017, we will be rolling out a number of improvements to the private messaging experience in Yammer.  These changes will also affect Online Now.

 

Why have a private messaging experience in Yammer?

While we believe that most work should happen in Yammer Groups, we recognize that there are important interactions that happen privately between coworkers along the way. These could be private messages about other Yammer conversations or independent private messages. These private messages have the same rich Yammer conversation model, with threaded messaging, ability to quickly like/reply to a message, and easily add participants who can see the full context of the message. And private messages can be shared broadly with a group at a later time if appropriate.

 

Why improve the private messaging experience?

  • Currently, there are two ways to privately message your coworker that are closely related: Private Messages (that can be created from the Inbox) and Online Now (chat). For instance, you can initiate a conversation in the Online Now chat window, which will also appear in your Yammer Inbox as a Private Message, and this adds unnecessary user confusion.
  • As Yammer is fully integrated with Office 365, we plan to improve the Yammer experience with the rich audio, video capabilities of Skype for Business. As we bring Skype and Yammer closer together, we want to avoid having a separate chat interface in Yammer.
  • As we iterate on the private messaging experience in Yammer, we plan to combine the ease of chat (quick creation, top-level access and notifications, etc.) with the functionality of Yammer's group messaging model (full Yammer threads, reply-to capability, Share, etc.).

 

When will the improvements be released?

The improvements will be rolled out in 3 phases:

  • In phase 1, the new private messaging experience will display in the left navigation bar on the home screen, right below the list of groups. This will be the primary entry point for all private messages and will combine the positive aspects of both Private Messages and Online Now. As part of this redesign, the current Online Now (chat) experience will no longer be available, but you'll be able to quickly message your coworkers using the new experience in the left nav. We expect to release this starting January 2017.
  • In phase 2, we will improve the private message experience further. In addition to some planned improvements, we will learn from the feedback and usage in phase 1. These improvements will release in the second quarter of 2017.
  • In phase 3, Yammer will integrate with the audio/video/chat functionality of Skype for Business. We are closely partnering with the Skype for Business team on this, and will announce timelines Through this integration, we expect to provide a significantly better chat experience (powered by Skype for Business) than is possible today via Online Now.

 

How will the private message experience be improved in Phase 1?

  • Easier navigation - Private messages can now be readily accessed from the left navigation bar on the home screen, right below the list of groups. Latest private messages will be listed on top. A private message can be created by clicking on the plus (+) button next to the Private Messages header. This makes it easier to create or access your most recent private messages wherever you are in the product. Clicking on the name of the recipient under the Private Messages section will take you directly to the corresponding private message. Also, the Settings gear will move to the top, and include profile information, quick-access menu items and external networks in one place.

 

Yammer1.pngPrivate messages easily accessible in the left navigation bar

 

Yammer2.pngClicking on any message on the left navigation bar will open the message in full view

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yammer3.pngSettings/Gear menu is on top of the left navigation bar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Less interruptive notifications – Whenever you get a new private message or a reply, you will see an animation on the left navigation bar. This is less interruptive than a chat window, but still provides you valuable notification. This notification has the same user experience as the one for groups, when the unread counter of a group in the left navigation bar is incremented when a user posts to the group.

 

Yammer4.pngLess interruptive notifications

  • Streamlined messaging experience – Previously you could contact your co-worker using either chat or private message (a private message can be created from the inbox). Several customers who use Skype for Business are confused by the separate presence and chat experience in Yammer. With the improved private messaging experience, there is a single private messaging experience in Yammer, which is consistent with Yammer's group messaging experience and retains the best aspects of chat. For instance, you can quickly create a private message by clicking on the plus (+) icon next to the Private Messages header, choosing a recipient and typing your message – instead of navigating to Inbox first. Also, you will hear the same familiar click sound which was previously in chat whenever there are any updates to your private messages.

Yammer5.pngStreamlined messaging experience in Yammer

Try out the new private messaging experience in Yammer when it becomes available.

32 Comments
Regular Contributor

What will be the requirements for the Skype for Business integration?  If your Skype experience is on-prem, what does that mean for phase 3?

What will be the requirements for the Skype for Business integration?  If your Skype experience is on-prem, what does that mean for phase 3?

>>The integration is planned for users who have an Office 365 subscription with Skype for business capability (so, available online). More details will be available closer to launch.

Occasional Contributor

Yammer Product Team - As you roll out new features to Yammer is there advance notification in general (month of) alert with similar details above, so we can prepare our Yammer community for features and changes. Right now I have no advance notice of a release and someone discovers it and asks about it. It would be nice to have advance notice to offer better support and education to our indiv. Yammer community.

[James]Yammer Product Team - As you roll out new features to Yammer is there advance notification in general (month of) alert with similar details above, so we can prepare our Yammer community for features and changes.

[Pradeep] Yes, good point. We do this on a fairly regular basis and if there are situations when you didn't get a timely update, please let us know. For example, for this Private Message experience change, we sent a message to administrators, via the Office 365 message center (with a link to this blog)

 

 PrivateMessage_Admin Comms.jpg

@James LaCorte, you can also request to join the Yammer Service Updates External Group, if your company has enabled such a thing, of course. Pasting the long link here so nothing gets lost... 

 

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=v4j5cvGGr0GRqy180BHbR_IsCZbD1YhBrIQPCOdZ5cNUMFJU...

 

 

Occasional Contributor

Will there still be a way to see if someone is currently online? The green dot in Online Now is quite useful - helps manage expectations of reply time.

[Question]Will there still be a way to see if someone is currently online? The green dot in Online Now is quite useful - helps manage expectations of reply time.

>>Thanks for the feedback. As mentioned in the blog post, we are moving closer to Skype for Business/Office 365 for chat scenarios. So, in the future, we will utilize the Skype for business/Office 365 notion of "who is active now" in Yammer as well (it is sometimes referred to as 'presence'). For instance, before starting an audio/video call, users will be able to see the Skype presence of the person they are trying to call. We may consider other similar scenarios as well in the future

Contributor

Hi @Pradeep GanapathyRaj, does the deployment/update is still schedule this month ? we issue change & coms to end user in december to let them known about it and explain them other evolution that are schedule + reply to question they got and, in theory it was schedule by end Jan (we are 26th Jan) :)

Hi @Pradeep GanapathyRaj, does the deployment/update is still schedule this month ?

>>Eric, we are heads-down finishing this up. We first dogfood any new user-experience inside Yammer/Microsoft - we found a few issues and are fixing them now. At this point, we think we will land this around mid-Feb. Stay tuned, and thanks for your interest! 

Contributor

 Thanks for feedback, it will help to re-organize internal user coms and explain them it is continuing to income, but with 2/3 weeks delay time to polish a couple of thing by Microsoft buddies :)

The A/B testing for the new Private Messaging feature recently rolled out to some of our users at Penn State University and so far there have been no complaints from those users who have the new feature turned on (other than the initial rush last Friday asking "Where did my Private Messaging go?")

 

However, I have been getting some important feedback from our users, especially from our Instructional Designers (IDs). These are the people who work the closest with faculty and students in the classroom on their use of technology for instructional purposes and class work. They have a strong influence on which specific technology tools instructors choose to use and have been champions of Yammer at Penn State over the past 5 years. While they generally have no issue with most of the changes, there is one feature of the old chat box in the lower right that they sorely miss -- the ability to see who's online from the Green Dot indicator.

 

I've received numerous complaints about this from the IDs as well as other people who are in the A/B test. The message below is typical of what I'm seeing of their reasoning and response.

 

"Hi Derek! Thank you very much for soliciting feedback to pass it along. Having the online chat feature with the on/offline indicator is an essential part of my workday. This is due to the fact that I work with many IDs and faculty across the state. I would greatly appreciate that this feature not go away permanently and if it does, I would decrease my Yammer usage (and not be on constantly during the workday outside of meetings). Instead I would try to get faculty and fellow IDs to utilize some other live chat feature. Hope this helps!"

 

Do you plan on retaining the online/offline indicator in some way and if so would that feature be available on the initial rollout or some future improvement?

Derek, thanks for the detailed feedback, much appreciated!

[Derek] While they generally have no issue with most of the changes, there is one feature of the old chat box in the lower right that they sorely miss -- the ability to see who's online from the Green Dot indicator. Do you plan on retaining the online/offline indicator in some way and if so would that feature be available on the initial rollout or some future improvement?

[Pradeep] This is something we have heard  from others as well. As Yammer becomes part of Office 365, we are relying on Skype for Business to power our chat capabilities, including presence, text, audio, video. So, yes, in the future, we plan to include Skype online/offline indicators in Yammer - design details TBD. 

Occasional Contributor

One quick question: Do I read correctly, that in one yammer network there can be users using the old user interface and users with the new interface?

[Sebastian] Do I read correctly, that in one yammer network there can be users using the old user interface and users with the new interface?

>>Yes, this is correct. 

Sebastian,

 

It's not that some users have a completely different interface than others, but sometimes before a feature rollout MS will do some A/B testing and some users will have slightly different features or layouts for the thing that MS is testing. My understanding is that which networks and which people in each network become part of the testing is random and there's no way to opt out. Over the five-ish years we've officially used Yammer I'd say it's no more than a slight annoyance and doesn't happen all that often. A few screenshots on my part and a quick write-up for our service desk and we're good to go with quick replies for our users who happen to be in the test.

 

(And anecdotally, it's the IT staff that raise the most fuss. Tens of thousands of students just go with the flow. My colleagues would probably use Pine for email if they still could.)

Pradeep, Thank you for your response! That's sufficient for me to let my users know what's going on.

 

One point of clarification, however. You said, " So, yes, in the future, we plan to include Skype online/offline indicators in Yammer - design details TBD."

 

Does that mean we have to have Skype turned on within Office 365 in order for the indicators to appear, or the indicators will be Skype-like and visible whether or not Skype is available to all our users.?

 

The reason I'm asking is that while we currently have Yammer turned on and used widely, there's a whole bunch of other O365 features we haven't turned on, including Skype, and all that is dependent upon a whole host of administrative, budgeting and technical issues and planning that's above my pay grade and I have no idea when or if certain parts of O365 will be activated. Will the green dot (or some indicator) be available in Yammer with or without Skype being active?

Occasional Contributor

We are right now in a pilot phase for yammer and try to look deeper in the processes within the updates of Microsoft. Your information is very important for us. We will include them to our own processes. Thank you Derek

[Derek] Does that mean we have to have Skype turned on within Office 365 in order for the indicators to appear, or the indicators will be Skype-like and visible whether or not Skype is available to all our users.?

 

The reason I'm asking is that while we currently have Yammer turned on and used widely, there's a whole bunch of other O365 features we haven't turned on, including Skype, and all that is dependent upon a whole host of administrative, budgeting and technical issues and planning that's above my pay grade and I have no idea when or if certain parts of O365 will be activated. Will the green dot (or some indicator) be available in Yammer with or without Skype being active?

 

>>Great feedback Derek. I understand the situation. I meant that Skype had to be turned on for presence to appear. Reason - as Yammer is closely integrated with O365, the % of users using Yammer along with other O365 services is increasing (and as you can imagine, seeing 2 separate presence indicators would be confusing). Plus relying on other O365 services allows Yammer to double-down on what we do best - helping users collaborate with their co-workers connected to the entire organization. In short, we want customers/users to move from thinking of Yammer as a stand-alone service, to one that is an integral part of O365. Keep the feedback coming, we totally appreciate the dialogue!

Sebastian,

 

What I've found useful is, if you have O365 and have access to the message center, read the messages there that are tagged as Yammer updates. That's the best place to see things that might be coming and give you some warning as to what might be tested on your network. Another place is the O365 Roadmap page. Type "Yammer" in the search box and that will limit the list to just Yammer updates. Not everything in the roadmap makes it to the live version and some things get rolled back or canceled, but it will give you a sense of what's coming and communications to your users that you want to plan for.

Pradeep,

 

Understood! That's a perfect answer. Yes, if only I could get people to think of Yammer as part of a whole integrated service instead of a stand alone tool. I've been explaining that informally for a few years, but it doesn't sink in as fast as I'd like. I can work with what you said to craft a message that will work for us. Thank you for all your help.

Occasional Visitor

Greetings!  WIll there be a way for Yammer Admins to disable Private Messaging Company wide? (I hope so - I was informed that they do not want staff to be able to PM each other on Yammer.)

[Chris]Greetings! Will there be a way for Yammer Admins to disable Private Messaging Company wide?

>>Hi Chris, we believe the ability to privately communicate with other colleagues in your team/company is a fundamental part of the group collaboration experience. For instance, you see an interesting post in a public group,and want to give constructive feedback about it in private. Or you want to share an idea with just  few people, which you may later share with a group. We want Yammer to provide an experience to accomplish these scenarios. So, no - there won't be a way for Yammer admins to disable Private messaging - Yammer always has had private messaging in the past, and will continue to do so. This design change makes the private messaging exprience less interruptive, and brings it closer to the group messaging experience, so it feels more natural for Yammer users. 

Occasional Visitor

   That is sad to hear that there is no way to disable that, as I was called into a meeting this morning regarding this - HR does NOT want the staff to PM each other (all messages need to be seen by all). While Yammer has always had PMs, it wasn't as noticible.  It's great to see that Yammer is evolving, I just wish the Yammer Admins had more control (such as the ability to set the day of the week that users recieve Yammer updates ("Updates from All Company") )

 

Thanks for replying to my inquiry.

 

Deleted
Not applicable

I like the fact that the reason for the change is to plan for future full integration with the Skype for Business Chat functionality, so one platform, one chat feature. What I instantly miss on the new interface is the "Who is available now" feature that was previously offered (The green dot / mobile). I used this quite often when contacting colleagues using the Yammer Chat. I know it is offered via Skype and once the two formally combined, then i would imagine it will return, but for the immediate future, it seems this functionality is lost in the new experience!? Please can we have it back!? 

[Jonathan]I like the fact that the reason for the change is to plan for future full integration with the Skype for Business Chat functionality, so one platform, one chat feature. What I instantly miss on the new interface is the "Who is available now" feature that was previously offered (The green dot / mobile). I used this quite often when contacting colleagues using the Yammer Chat. I know it is offered via Skype and once the two formally combined, then i would imagine it will return, but for the immediate future, it seems this functionality is lost in the new experience!? Please can we have it back!?

>>Jonathan, thanks for the feedback, we have heard it from others as well. I have sent you a private message to understand your scenario better. Also, in the current experience, whenever you mouse-over a person's name, we do show the 'online indicator' at the top right of the card. 

 

 OnlineIndicator.pngOnline Indicator

Occasional Visitor

I'm not a fan of the changes. It was nice to log onto Yammer in one step and use it both as a network with coworkers and for its chat feature in the 'online now' section. The new private messages format is cumbersome and ugly. I'd rather do without it completely so that the majority of the staff would all use another chat option. Instead some people who haven't gotten the update continue to use private messages while those who have the new version cringe everytime another private message accumlates on the left navigation bar.

Hi Meredith, thanks for taking the time to give us feedback. We are looking at all quantitative and qualitative feedback closely. You mentioned "those who have the new version cringe everytime another private message accumlates on the left navigation bar" - would be great if you can add more context. Is it because of  a) interruptions - 'my left nav changes based on what someone else does', in this case send a PM. How does it compare with the interruptiveness of chat?  b) prime navigation real estate encroachment - 'PMs occupy left nav that I mentally reserve for groups'. Is it because very old PMs clutter up space?  This would help us think through our next iteration, thanks again!

Occasional Contributor

So, in our rather large organization some users retain Yammer Online Chat and the esteemed "Green" presence awareness button, while others do not have this user experience.  Why is that?  This certainly implies there's a way to retain that functionality.

Hi Christopher- the changes described in this blog are part of an A/B test, hence your experience. This has been a very interesting learning process - since ONLINE NOW CHAT has been an integral part of Yammer for a long time. We are making some tweaks to the experience which u should see rolling out soon, after which you will see the new experience rolled out broadly. Tweaks rolling out soon:
-We saw that users weren't noticing updates to their private messages. We are addressing it by showing an animation in the private message section with the profile pic of the sender (we show a similar animation in the groups section).
-We saw that users were distracted by very-old conversations showing up in the left nav. We are addressing it by limiting it to the last month
-We saw group creation decline because we removed the text link 'create a group' with a subtle + sign. We are fixing that.
Stay tuned, and keep the feedback coming!

Contributor

I would really like to see that a private message in Yammer appears as a persistent chat between me and the members involved in that chat. I.e making it possible to use the "client at hand".

Contributor

Is there an update regarding the timeline of this integration with Skype for Business?

[Nicklas] I would really like to see that a private message in Yammer appears as a persistent chat between me and the members involved in that chat. I.e making it possible to use the "client at hand".
>>I am sure you know that all private messages in Yammer are persistent - in that you can search and find them in your Yammer inbox. If you are suggesting that Private messages in Yammer appear in Skype for Business along with other chats - that's an interesting suggestion. As we learn more about how people use Skype for Business with Yammer, we will consider such experiences.

 

[Johannes] Is there an update regarding the timeline of this integration with Skype for Business?
>> Skype for business within Yammer web experience should be available now, please refresh your browser page and check if you see the Skype for Business icon in the O365 Suite Navigation bar. More information about this integration here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Use-Skype-for-Business-from-within-Yammer-e221b8ae-9647-4b4...