Resurrecting Brilliance: Transforming a Legacy Feature at Retrium

How I uncovered a key customer need through user research, and worked in a cross-collaborative team to make the feature become a reality.

Initial user research

During a usability testing session, I gathered a diverse group of 10 users to evaluate the Radars feature of Retrium via the online platform UserTesting. As they interacted with the interface, it became evident that a key opportunity lay in how radars are used. Several participants expressed that they could see a huge benefits from the following:

  • Being able to track their team's radar scores over time

  • Being able to track discussions and progress across a variety of topics

  • A more intuitive pathway to see results from retrospectives

This invaluable feedback illuminated a promising avenue for a feature enhancement, ensuring a more seamless user experience in our upcoming release.

A screenshot of the Radar screen from Retrium, which includes 5 spokes and asks the user "As you adjust to working from home, how satisfied are you with your work environment?"

Retrium's radar feature

Stakeholder discussions

In product strategy meetings, I took a proactive stance in advocating for user needs and insights gleaned from customer interviews with respect to the radars feature. Armed with a wealth of valuable feedback, I presented compelling anecdotes and data-driven observations to the stakeholders. By painting a vivid picture of our users' pain points and aspirations, I effectively underscored the critical importance of aligning our product roadmap with their real-world requirements.

This advocacy ignited a collaborative discussion, leading to a collective commitment to prioritize features and improvements that directly address our customers' most pressing concerns. This collaborative effort promised to yield a new feature that resonates deeply with our user base, driving satisfaction and loyalty.

Initial planning and assumption testing

Beginning with the data I had from customer interviews, I plotted out the assumptions that surfaced at the beginning of the project, and then sorted them in order of priority. I then used those assumptions to frame additional questions that I could validate with user testing once the prototypes were ready.


Ranked assumptions generated from discussions about the feature set

Creating a user flow

Next, I built out a streamlined user flow that addressed key pain points identified through extensive research and user testing. The visual representation of the proposed solution resonated powerfully, providing a tangible vision of the user experience improvements.

One of the problems that I encountered with creating this user flow was that the infrastructure required to create the most compelling experience given the data we wanted to display was not in place. Rather than opting to make a perfect experience, I opted to leverage as much of our existing UI as possible, while adding key elements to the experience that would deliver on the promise of our feature.

The layout of the "Find Your Focus" feature, shown in two wireframes that depict the Team Room page.

After finalizing the user journey and presenting the results to stakeholders, the feature was prioritized. It's a testament to the power of user-centric design and a collaborative approach, ensuring that our development efforts are firmly rooted in meeting our users' evolving needs.

Mentoring junior designers

Given the magnitude of the project, I recognized the critical importance of mentoring our newest designer, who joined our team. Together in Adobe XD, we delved into the intricate process of crafting visual designs for each screen and its respective states. Through hands-on guidance and open communication, I ensured they understood not only the technical aspects but also the strategic vision driving our design choices. This collaborative effort not only bolstered their skills but also enriched the project with fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. It was a gratifying experience to witness their growth, and together, we navigated the complexities of the project, ultimately delivering a solution that exceeded expectations.

The layout of the focus dashboard on the Team Room page, in wireframe form. We can see and early look at the sidebar, and the connections between the various CTAs.Retrium team room dashboard displaying the team's focus, providing an overview of current priorities and objectives for effective collaboration.

The Find Your Focus feature integrated into the Retrium Team Room Dashboard

Integrating and collaboration with developers

During the development phase, we recognized the critical need to validate our progress through user testing. Leveraging remote testing methods, we engaged participants from diverse backgrounds to gain valuable insights into their interactions with the feature set.

We quickly realized that because of how many changes needed to be validated, we required a separate instance of the app that we could present to testers. This separate instance would be a different code branch from the production code base, which would allow us to test and validate changes with users before promoting them to production and staging environments.

In addition to general feedback around focused retrospectives, we revolutionized the Team Room dashboard by adding a week-by-week sidebar, offering users a clear roadmap for their journey. This visual guide ensures teams stay on track, fostering focused and productive discussions. Testers validated that using this process with their teams would lead to a more effective retrospective cadence.

In testing, users did encounter some troubles with interacting with calls to action. The copy we used on the sidebar didn't translate to the actions presented in-app. To help with this, we made the text in the sidebar clickable, after observing users trying to click the text in order to carry out the actions. The result? Users greatly appreciated the clarity of the sidebar, and how clicking on orange text served as a secondary CTA.

Sidebar displaying the 'Your Improvement Journey' schedule for a focused retrospective cadence, outlining timelines for planning, sprint review, and sprint retrospective sessions, providing a structured approach to team improvement.

The sidebar navigation, improved with clickable orange text

Tight deadlines

Despite our fervent desire to conduct more extensive testing, the project's tight deadline presented a formidable constraint. Balancing the imperative to refine the feature with the pressing need for timely delivery required a careful evaluation of priorities. While we couldn't explore every potential avenue, we focused our efforts on addressing the most critical issues identified during testing. This pragmatic approach ensured that, within the constraints, we were able to deliver a high-quality feature that met the immediate needs of our users.

One critical issue we focused on was the difficulty users were having with starting new retros. We found that looking through a long list of retrospective techniques took users longer to discover the joy of the app (running retros). To help with this, we selected two techniques that are good for beginners, and placed them front-and-center on the dashboard. By clicking them, users would be taken straight to the retro. This increased time-to-value, and made for a more seamless user experience.

A screenshot of the Team Room Dashboard in Retrium, which prompts the user to Ignite Team Collaboration by choosing a team focus from the options listed below (such as Work Happiness).

The addition of pre-selected technique buttons to the dashboard increased users time-to-value

Future planning

The initial testing results provided a powerful validation of our efforts. They not only validated our design choices but also unearthed valuable insights that would shape our next steps. Armed with this user-centric data, we seized the opportunity to advocate for the user in planning next quarter's tasks.

In discussions with stakeholders, we emphasized how these findings illuminated key pain points and user preferences. By aligning our roadmap with these insights, we assured a more targeted and impactful approach for upcoming initiatives. This user-driven strategy not only promises to enhance the user experience but also fortifies our commitment to delivering solutions that truly resonate with our audience. It's a testament to the power of prioritizing user feedback in shaping our product's evolution.

Radar retrospective screen displaying a comparison of the current radar with a previous iteration of the same type, illustrating changes and trends in team assessments over time.

A brand new feature allowing users to compare the results of their focus with their team.

With cautious optimism, we recently released the new feature (dubbed "Find your focus") to a carefully selected segment of our user base. This controlled deployment allowed us to gather real-world feedback and monitor performance in a live environment. Initial responses have been encouraging, and we're already hard at work analyzing user interactions and collecting invaluable feedback.

Retrium team room dashboard displaying the team's focus, providing an overview of current priorities and objectives for effective collaboration. The comparison radar is depicted, which shows how your team's Radar ratings have changed over time.

Moving forward, our focus is firmly set on a continuous cycle of improvement and iteration. We're committed to refining the feature based on user input, addressing any unforeseen challenges, and incorporating enhancements that align closely with their evolving needs. This iterative process is the cornerstone of our approach, ensuring that the feature not only meets but exceeds user expectations, ultimately providing a more seamless and satisfying experience.

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