Gotta catch ’em all
There really is no I in team, and that’s why Redbooth now allows you to assign tasks to multiple people.
Read on to find out how we built a new feature that enhances the way people work.
Redbooth is a task management platform. The foundation of our product is to help teams collaborate and get work done.
Multiple assignment is a feature in Redbooth that enables a single task to be assigned to multiple people. As the designer on the project, when multiple assignment first came up as an initiative, I was skeptical and hesitant. It disrupted the core notion our application was build around — having a single task owner to ensure clear accountability. I feared that this level of flexibility would diffuse ownership and work would not get done. A product competitor, Asana, shares the philosophy that “without having a clear, single task owner, much of that accountability is lost.”
However, with a little anticipation and much determination, we decided to blaze the trail.
Research and Discovery
While the customer request to add the ability to assign tasks to more than one person sounds straightforward, solving the problem is not. And the real-life implementation is quite complex.
The first step for us on the product team was customer discovery and user research. This helped us better understand customers’ real-life workflows, identify pain points within the product, and clearly define the problems we needed to solve.
We distilled the information and defined three primary use cases:
- Collective responsibility: Multiple people are equally responsible for completing a single task together.
- Collaborative effort with lead: A task has a primary lead, but requires multiple people to complete.
- Individual responsibility for same task: A single task (the same task) must be individually completed by multiple people.
Since the use cases vary depending on the task at hand and the team’s workflow, we decided to develop a solution that addressed them all.
Evaluate what the product offered customers today
Redbooth has various product features that users have relied on to build their own “multiple assignment” workarounds. For some teams and cases, these features were adequate solutions for their workflow, but cumulatively, they all fell short in addressing the user need.
For example, let’s look at the case of “Susie,” a marketing manager — before we built our new multiple assignment feature. Her scenario is one classified as “collective responsibility.”
Her team is building a new website. One of their tasks is to conduct competitor analysis. Each team member is responsible for gathering data. Susie creates the task then copies and assigns it to each team member. It’s a mundane and repetitive process. Each person on her team starts gathering data and posting on their respective task.
Quickly realizing that efforts are starting to be duplicated, Susie spends a lot of time checking each task and following up individually. Yes, work is getting done, but she and her team have lost sight of the overall vision and collaborative effort it was meant to be. More time is spent going between tasks to collect and summarize the information than actually working together on the project itself.
We asked ourselves, “Was this really the best we could offer her?”
Susie wasn’t alone — many of our customers were having to create their own imperfect workarounds as well. We knew we could build a better way.
While creativity has no bounds, it was necessary that we set some for the feature.
Through our research and product evaluation, we uncovered several key takeaways that spanned each use case:
- Allow the user to assign a single task to multiple people. (#verified!)
- Identify each person as an owner of the task.
- A user must be able to easily identify they are responsible for the task.
Alongside the customer requirements, we set our own ground rules. We decided to utilize the existing assignee components within the application. Meaning, we would not change the location of the existing assignment interaction. Second, we would create an intuitive interaction that the user would easily adopt. Combined, they would minimize behavior change and workflow disruptions, while providing the customer with enhanced functionality.
With the requirements defined, it was time to design.
In addition to studying how our customers used our product to assign work, we investigated similar interactions used in other platforms that users would likely be familiar with. For instance, adding email recipients, messaging, and social media tagging.
After much valiant teamwork, the feature released earlier this month. With excitement and pride, what started out as a challenging endeavor resulted in an elegant solution that embraces our customers’ real-life workflows. Throughout the process, our focus on solving the customer pain eliminated our initial doubts and we trust our customers to use the feature in a way that works best for their team.
The new feature is an improved interaction accompanied by a new icon and refreshed UI elements. These elements not only permit the multiple assignment functionality, but communicate the ideal amount of information to a user at various levels within the product.
The new UI elements provide visual cues and allowances for specific use cases at different states.
For example, a user can now easily designate a project lead by placing them first in the assignee list. At the project level, their photo will appear accompanied by a badge that indicates there are additional assignees. This makes it easy to identify the lead at a glance, but know the task is a collaborative effort at the same time.
Need to change the order? Just drag and drop the names within the list.
No matter what your team’s workflow looks like, visual indicators make it clear which tasks are assigned to you, empowering you to get your work done.
Like life, teamwork can be messy. With multiple assignment in Redbooth, now people like Susie can tidy their workflow and take their process to the next level.
We’re working on more interesting things, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out my post on the process of designing Gantt charts for Redbooth.
Special thanks to Diana Ecker for her guidance on this post.