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Spark! Employee Workplace

Finalist at “The 2021 North American

Inspiring Workplaces Awards” competition


Over the 2020 pandemic, people started working from home and employers had the responsibility of helping in every way they could. Spark! is the digital workplace for CEMEX employees. 


Sparks' objective is to evolve the traditional employee portal from delivering services and pushing information to enabling and mobilizing CEMEX’s workforce, accelerating efficiency and fostering collaboration & belonging.

The project began in 2018, since then different teams from different areas of the company have worked on this project.


My job was to gather all the documentation that we had about the project. Reviewed 200+ documents (research, background, studies, activities) to get to the design we have today. Likewise, I conducted "diary studies" to explore how much the pandemic changed the way employees work.

Before Spark!

CEMEX previous Intranet

A survey reported that employees didn't use the intranet for communicating, collaborating, nor getting information about the company. Employees mostly used the intranet to get to the links section, which was a tedious process because first they needed to log into a VPN, then go to the Services page, search for a link, and sign into another platform. 

Shift Home.jpg

With the pandemic, there was an urge to create a new digital workplace: Spark! had the objective to deliver a powerful standard workforce experience worldwide. A digital workplace that would also enable the employees to being more connected through their mobile devices by providing anytime, anywhere access to tools, services and corporate & local information. An enhanced user experience providing choice, flexibility, and personalization was, since Spark!’s conception, the top priority.

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UX Research


To create the sitemap, employees from different areas participated in a card sorting exercise. Participants grouped elements together and named the categories.

After this exercise I was able to improve previous proposals for the Spark's sitemap.

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Card sorting results

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Conducted surveys to find out how employees collaborate, communicate, get informed about the company, and which tools they use. In addition, find out for what exactly they used the previous intranet and what will be useful to have in the new one. 

The home page is the heart of an intranet. Which elements you consider should be in your homepage?

"Current news (More than global, I will like to know about my Region and Country) Results of the company to have a clear understanding on where we stand Covid 19 updates News about the people I work with (As birthdays, accomplishments, etc)"

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Screenshot of interview results

Diary Studies

How did the the pandemic changed the way employees work?

During the design phase, I performed the research method of "Diary Studies". The objective was to find out how the pandemic changed the way of working of CEMEX Employees, find out which were their tasks, where they performed them and in which device. All this to develop and prioritize widgets in the pages of Spark


A group of CEMEX employees representing the different user persona roles participated in the study. Participants were asked to log their work activities each day for 1 week. Also, they were asked to answer a quick questionnaire each day with topics in collaboration, communication, and technology regarding day to day work. ​

After data from the study was collected, we were able to map their activities in a timeline and identify user needs and pain points. Also, we identified which activities and their frequency were performed in their mobile and which were performed in their desktop; this helped us prioritize widgets in the design. Additionally, we were able to compare the pandemic surveys with the data of the 2019 surveys. 


At all times, the previous exercises were discussed, planned and reviewed with our product owners and core team. 

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"I have too many meetings"

"There are a lot of communication channels" 

"I use too many tools and it's difficult to organize them"

"I would like to see all my notifications in one place"

Note clustering

Sketches & Wireframes


Wireframes of each page were provided to have conversations with stakeholders and negotiate what the content of Spark was going to be. There were many business requirements to meet, but there were also many user needs. My job was to negotiate and prioritize user needs, therefore the key was to build empathy towards the end user, CEMEX employees. 

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Final sketches for Meetings and Tool Bar widgets


Homepage Design

A quick glance of your day

The idea was to centralize data from the Microsoft Suite so users could take a quick look in their desktop or their phone. Widgets were designed in response to the pain-point findings in the studies. 

Meetings widget
Designed to give the user a quick view of their daily agenda. Also, it highlights the meetings out of office hours, with the objective of reducing them. 

New Emails widget
Designed to show users only their new emails. 

Messages widget
Indicates which are the unread messages and users can quickly reply to conversations without opening Microsoft Teams. 

My Tasks widget
Designed to show users their pending tasks. User can see, edit, and add new tasks.


The Tool Bar

A personalized toolbar available on every page

Previous surveys showed that employees commonly used the previous intranet to access the links to their payroll calendar and their vacation days, resulting in too many clicks.

This toolbar not only has shortcuts to other pages, but also has a summary of vacation and pay dates. This way, the user doesn't need open external websites to check this information. 

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Mobile UX

Studies demonstrated the importance of mobile phones during work. 

The mobile experience for Spark was a must. Diary Studies demonstrated that users use their phones to perform work activities. For example, most of the participants checked their phone in the morning before looking at their computer. They would check their e-mail, see their meetings, and check their messages. 


Spark has been one of my most challenging projects. Working within a team of different areas (HR, Corp Comms, Process & IT) enriched my communication skills in a way I would never imagine. Many conversations about UX design decisions took place with multiple stakeholders and managers in order to communicate the importance of design.


My participation in this project accelerated the process of agreeing to a design solution based in user research, pandemic research, and company requirements. We saved around 3 million MXN pesos to the company by doing research and design in house and not with a 3rd party consultant.


Spark! currently has: ​

  • 6,677 active users

  • 34,233 sessions per month

  • 71,667 views per month 

  • Access peak times are  9:00 to 9:30 am and 2:00 to 2:30 pm 

  • Trending Topics and Tags: Networks/Diversity and Inclusion; People Driven Culture; Development 

  • Top 5 sites/functionality visited: Search Center, Home, Mandatory Reads, News, Services 

Since our launch in March 2021, we have received positive feedback from the employees (CENTRAL/CORPORATE business unit). Our very first indicator of a positive impact was the enthusiastic reaction of our users during our launch sessions. They expressed comments like:  ​

“Thank you for enhancing our digital employee experience!!! Great job!!!” – K.Garza

“Yep, just entered in my iPhone's Safari with and worked very well ” – L.Aviles 

“SPARK, Great initiative, thanks” – O. Valencia 

“CONGRATULATIONS! Glad to see evolution!” – J. Martínez 

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