Revolutionizing Design at Retrium: Embracing Front End Technologies for Unified Scalability

At Retrium, one of my main responsibilities was to improve the user experience through visual enhancements to the user interface of the application. I used desirability studies and an understanding of design systems to refresh the application, piece-by-piece.

Planning a design system

Upon joining Retrium, I embarked on a transformative journey to revitalize our application through the creation of a comprehensive design system. This ambitious endeavor was driven by a clear vision to modernize our platform, ensuring it remains at the forefront of user experience in today's dynamic landscape.

Auditing existing components

Given the sheer scale and complexity of our application, which housed a myriad of diverse components marked by inconsistencies, this initiative quickly evolved into a monumental undertaking. It demanded a meticulous approach to not only unify the visual elements but also establish a cohesive and intuitive user interface that would seamlessly guide our users through their experience. The project became a testament to our commitment to delivering a product that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of our discerning user base.

Screenshot of the design system's color palette displaying a range of harmonious hues including primary, secondary, and accent colors, along with their corresponding hex values.

Laying out colors for the new system

Initial implementation

To expedite progress without embarking on a prolonged overhaul, I strategically began with the outlier pages. This approach allowed us to make substantial improvements without being bogged down by a lengthy timeline. Focusing on individual elements of the app's screens, I meticulously revamped each aspect, taking a piecemeal approach towards revitalizing the application's visual design.

Retrium User Settings page displaying options for customizing avatars, name, and email preferences.Retrium Organization Settings page displaying options for customizing organization settings, including organization name and tags.Retrium Team Room Settings page displaying options for customizing team retrospective settings, including team room name and tags.

Aligning the styles of the Settings pages, in order to create consistency and help users navigate these pages

The overarching objective of these targeted visual updates was to establish a robust visual hierarchy. By doing so, we aimed to optimize the page's scannability, ensuring that users could effortlessly navigate and absorb the content. This approach not only enhanced the overall aesthetics but also greatly improved the user experience, setting the stage for a more cohesive and engaging interface across the entire application.

Typography and spacing

Collaborating closely with our talented development team, I took a hands-on approach to establish a robust front-end architecture. This involved crafting reusable typography and spacing components that would serve as the backbone of our design system. By leveraging their technical expertise and my design sensibilities, we ensured that every visual element not only looked impeccable but also functioned seamlessly within the application.

This collaborative effort proved instrumental in streamlining the development process, allowing for more efficient and consistent implementation of design elements. The reusable components not only bolstered the visual cohesion of our platform, but also empowered the team to iterate swiftly and maintain a polished user interface across various sections of the application. This symbiotic relationship between design and development was pivotal in creating a product that not only met our aesthetic standards but also exceeded user expectations in terms of functionality and usability.

Future thinking

Looking ahead, the future of our design system holds exciting possibilities. By leveraging advanced tools like EmotionJS and an updated version of Material UI, we aim to elevate our design ecosystem to new heights. These technologies offer a potent combination of flexibility and efficiency, providing a solid foundation for unifying our design language.

Redesigned Retrium team room page in dark mode, showcasing various retrospective techniques and historical data. Options include Starfish and Sailboat, with a visual timeline illustrating past retrospectives for the team.

Potential dark mode design for Retrium

EmotionJS, with its powerful CSS-in-JS capabilities, promises a dynamic approach to styling components. This empowers us to create a more cohesive and adaptable design system that can swiftly evolve with changing needs. Additionally, an upgraded version of Material UI brings a wealth of refined components and patterns, ensuring a seamless and intuitive user experience.

By harnessing front-end technologies, this unified design system enables swift integration of new app experiences. This could even involve a redesign for a sleeker, more intuitive interface, which received near-universal acclaim from testers compared to the current UI.

Retrium Heads-Up Display (HUD) presenting notes during the 'Think' phase of the retrospective, providing a visual interface for brainstorming and idea generation.

A brand-new HUD and interface for running retros

Together, these tools not only enhance our design process but also lay the groundwork for scalability. With a unified design system, we're poised to efficiently expand and adapt to future challenges and opportunities. This strategic investment in our design infrastructure will not only benefit our team's workflow but also ultimately translate into an enriched and consistent user experience for our audience.

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