“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”
– Ken Blanchard
Without feedback about your actions, you can’t learn. Honest feedback is the essence of improvement. For us, it’s been the fundamental principle of our company since day one. In this article you will see how Filestage systematically collects user feedback in our feature-driven development.
User-Centered Design as a Core Philosophy
Before we started developing our content review tool Filestage, we interviewed over 50 people working in film, advertising, design, and marketing. During the review process with clients and coworkers, we asked them about their workflow and their problems. We started building Filestage from scratch only after we were sure we understood their problem.
As a first step, we designed mockups. We shared them with our interviewees and asked for feedback. Then we improved them, and we asked again till we had built our very first version of Filestage.
Since then, our routine has involved talking to customers. Whenever possible, we gather feedback from users and creative professionals. Every piece of feedback is valuable to us. It helps us create the best solution to manage client reviews.
Today, I want to share how we co-develop new features through close communication with our customers. It’s a step-by-step guide based on real examples from feature development.
Meet Martin. He’s a post-production professional in a medium-sized company. He’s been using Filestage for a few weeks now, and was quite happy with the service. The onboarding process was very smooth, as he was in constant contact with Filestage’s support team. But after using the platform for a few weeks, he felt that he was missing something in our application. He then contacted our support team…
Step 1: Users as Idea Generators
Martin: Hello, my clients and I are very happy with Filestage! One question: Is there a way to see all the videos that my clients were invited to review?
These kinds of conversations are crucial for any company. Here, you truly get to know users’ needs. At this point, it is important to remember one thing:
Tip 1: Always ask why
It’s essential to understand why a user is suggesting a feature in the first place. Then you’ll understand which problem the user tries to solve with his proposed solution. This understanding is important, whether a user asks for a feature over the phone or on Facebook, Intercom, or Twitter.
Support: Hi Martin, thank you for writing. Unfortunately, we don’t have that option yet, but it’s a great idea! Can you tell me a little more about your use case?
Martin: Sure! When have a lot of files to review, they always click on the email invitation and open the file, but it soon gets uncomfortable to keep going to the email back and forth. So I was thinking: if it’s possible to have a dashboard for reviewers, it’ll make reviewing many files easier.
Tip 2: Understand the priority
For every feature request, you want to understand its priority. Here are some ideas for how to prioritize features:
Nice-to-have: Desirable but not necessary. Would improve user experience and customer satisfaction.
Important: Users are likely to become customers (if trialing), or are likely to leave.
Critical: Users are clearly stating that this feature will make them become customers (if trialing), or it’ll make them churn, cancel, or leave.
Support: Thanks a lot for this information, Martin. This use case sounds really interesting! Can you help me understand how important this feature is for you? Is it more of a must-have feature, or just nice-to-have?
After his answer, the next step is to systematically proceed with the feature request.
Step 2: Systematically Documenting User Feedback
To save all the feedback you gather from your clients, we suggest using a CRM solution such as Intercom. With this tool, you are able to tag every user that gave feedback or requested a feature. This way, you can proactively reach out after you start developing a feature.
At some point, we ended up having A LOT of tags within our Intercom account, so we started maintaining several Google Sheets and Trello Boards to prioritize and plan features. That’s why we started using the tool ProductBoard for capturing feature requests.
At ProductBoard, the feedback from the user is imported, and important parts can be highlighted.
Highlighting user insights and linking them to related feature ideas helps us prioritize. And it offers valuable context to designers, developers, and marketers in our team, who now understand the why behind each feature.
Step 3: Translating Feedback into New Features
After gathering the feedback, it’s important to analyze it to get clarity about the needs and wishes of your users. Based on this analysis, we prioritize feature wishes with ProductBoard.
Three criteria are important:
- Company Drivers
Can the product strategy be derived from the company strategy?
Of course, the feature needs to fit into your overall strategy for your product and company. For example, if you aim to maximize the “trial-to-pay” conversion rate, you would investigate whether the feature will pay toward it or not.
- Product Impact Score
Does the feature impact user satisfaction?
Additionally, it’s important to see how big the general impact of the feature is on user satisfaction.
What’s the potential workload?
Finally we analyze the effort that needs to be taken to develop the feature.
Those criteria result in the prioritization score.
Step 4: Planning Features & Creating UX Concepts
Once a feature is prioritized, we start mapping its development.
The first step towards a new feature is always starting with a pen and paper. Here, we sum up the use case of the feature to deeply understand the user flow.
In the next step, we use a pen and paper to make a first UI draft of the feature. Only after that step is complete and we’re sure about the functions of the feature, we start creating a UX concept and design prototype. For this step, we use prototyping tools like Marvel or InVision.
When the first concept is done, we contact the same user that gave us feedback in the first place.
Support: Hi Martin, We’ve just built a prototype for the feature reviewer dashboard, which we were talking about recently, and I thought I’d show it to you. If you’ve got a minute, feel free to test the functions, and let me know how you like them. Your opinion is really important to us since you requested this feature and inspired us to build it. Thank you!
Martin: Wow, it looks really cool! Almost exactly as I imagined it. 🙂 I’d add one thing: I want my clients to see which files they need to review. For example, it’d be great to have a red dot next to the files, so they immediately see that action needs to be taken.
Lastly, we amend our concept until it perfectly fits the use case of our users.
Step 5: Implementing the Feature
After the UX concept (in co-creation with the users) is finalized, it’s time to make a technical concept. For each new feature that we develop, we create a so-called user story in our agile task management tool Jira. When the story is created, we split it into technical tasks and assign them to our developers.
Format: As a <type of user>, I want to <do something> so that <some value is created>.
Example: As a project manager in an agency, I want my clients to be able to
have a dashboard with all files of the project, so that they can see all the videos they are reviewing at a glance.
Step 6: Testing & Iterating
During the technical implementation, we create a feature prototype as soon as possible, which allows us to iterate with our customers once more. Then we can react flexibly and adapt our technical implementation in an early state, which reduces the risk of wasting resources during the development process.
In addition to automated tests, we internally try out new features on our testing environment. In this way, we ensure the best user experience across all browsers and systems.
Step 7: Releasing a New Feature
At this point, you can start informing your users about the new feature.
We usually start with the users who requested the feature in the first place. Afterwards, we let all the other users know about the new feature.
This means for us: Party here at the Filestage headquarter!
Support: Hey there, here is our new reviewer dashboard! With our brand new reviewer dashboard, you, your clients and your co-workers can review and approve all of their files on one central platform. No more digging through email notifications to access review files. How do you like it? I’m looking forward to your honest feedback.
Step 8: Measuring the Success of the Launch of a Feature
After every feature launch, we immediately start measuring the success of the new feature. This report tells us which impact the feature has on our company, and whether we need to amend or adjust the feature.
In this last step, our core questions are:
- How much is it being used on a daily basis?
- How many users started using Filestage specifically because of this feature?
- How many users are satisfied?
- How many users need help from the support team because of the new feature?
- How much revenue was created because of the feature?
Customer feedback provides us with valuable insights into what our users think about our platform. Usually, our greatest ideas are based on insights we get from our users. So for us, asking users for feedback is simply the best way to build a solution that users will love. We’ve been a feedback company from day one, which was crucial for us and helped us become what we are today: an intuitive tool for reviewing and approving, which was made with love.
When she’s not having exciting conversations with users, she loves to write about creative topics all around marketing.