Kevan Lin
Case study

Introducing the Community feed

Background

After shipping the community, we had a line open with our most avid and passionate super users. One of the most consistent feedback items was around the idea that they just couldn't "watch" or monitor everything, accurately.

One thing to note as we dive into this, the homepage for both logged in and logged out community members were, essentially, the same thing. This will be important later.

The (user) problem

As a devoted and passionate community power user that wants to give back to the community by answering questions, I want to know that I'm watching all incoming posts in my area of expertise, so that I can provide timely and accurate answers.

The business goals

Success of the community hinges upon super users who volunteer their time to answer questions. This reduces the total number of hours spent by support staff, not necessarily to eliminate their efforts to answer questions but to improve the quality of answers for more thornier questions that require more time. These super users are essentially filling the gap with bona fide answers that Atlassian would already approve of.

Discovery & Research

In order to fully comprehend the needs of these power users, a survey was sent out as a preliminary method to gauge overall sentiment. As expected, the surveys indicated that, although the majority of users used email notifications as a means to monitor everything coming into the community, they still would like to have another "in-app" view to filter and sort the posts.

Some lightweight interviews were conducted to see how users were tracking new posts to the community. In some cases, this was literal in that I asked users to show their desktop and walk me through their method of tracking what was was new to the community.

The work

With a few interviews conducted, it was time to start sketching out some possible solutions. People wanted to be able to come to a page that had the latest of what they were watching or following in the community.

But how would that information be displayed? What other elements needed to be present next to this information? My initial reaction was to do a bit of competitive analysis.

screencaptures from Product Hunt, Instagram, Medium, Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook regarding notifications

As you can tell from the screenshots above, the pattern of (Person A) (verb) (post title) was becoming very apparent. But I wanted to hear from the users, so I designed two very different approaches to this and put these designs in front of them and solicited their responses.

Two approaches

Left - A view that resembles a print out of posts chronologically ordered.

Right - A view that was more in line with social networking style reporting of activity that had taken place on posts they've contributed on.

Initial feedback

"Can I sort this [View 1]? Why can't I sort this?"

"Likes the feed concept, but finding notifications version to be just 'noise'".

These were the two most overwhelming comments I received about the two different versions. When pressed on whether or not there was value to the 'noise', there was but not necessarily on this page. Many had advocated for the idea of a mini notifications area for these kinds of updates. They all much preferred a feed that represented the posts that belong to an area of interest they were interested in or had knowledge in.

To that end, users asked what it would be like to choose these interest areas, could it be configurable? Could it sorted and filtered depending on criteria? What happens when you haven't set up any feeds yet? What does that empty state look like? I went back to the drawing board and explored these concepts further.

Iterate and test

With the question of state and configuring the feed, top of mind, I started to explore this concept further.

Description Mock up
Empty state - the person has yet to configure their feed
If user has configured for one product or interest category, then this is their view
In the event the user wants to add more, thisis how they would adjust, add or remove.

Soliciting feedback (again)

The first participants in the initial interviews were asked to re-evaluate the proposed solutions, but I also wanted to reach out to people who hadn't seen these designs before too. The feedback was unanimous, "I would use this daily". When pressed for why it was valuable and in which way it was valuable, I got responses like:

I just love the way that I can configure my feed for the various product that I'd like to focus in on. So for this next hour I'll focus on Jira Software related questions. And the next hour I'll focus on Bitbucket ones."

Compliments were abound with the sort and filter bar located at the top:

Yes I can sort! I love that I can filter by content type. It's helpful to switch between seeing just questions and everything else. I feel like I'm really on top of it.

There other comments on the elements in the left rail that gave us confidence that were building something that would be useful for these power users.

I really like that I can see my stats and maybe get to my profile easily? Really like the idea of a list of my recently viewed questions on the community. When I go back and forth a lot, it's hard to track which question was the one that I wanted to link to. This is helpful.

Refining and sweating the details

As it turns out, it became a nightmare to code something like this personalized feed configurator. In light of this, we simplified the whole experience to a series of dropdowns that would act as sorts and filters to the posts.

There were preliminary thoughts around how we could utilize data of the member to create personalized prompts and views in getting users to perform contextual actions.

Ultimately, the launch of the new profile pages (during this project) dictated the work in this space. So as an effort to tie the new profile page with other areas of the site, the card on the homepage became a mini version of the profile page, acting as a promotion to edit/see/fill out your community profile.

Left - Mini profile card

Right - Prototype version

Final version shipped

The final version of this shipped with the smaller rail being on the right hand side as opposed to being on the left. The personalized states of contribution also didn't make the cut.

Let's talk about outcomes