Creating two-way, async conversations with inline commenting
Learn how we made product changes to increase engagement and collaboration with reflections
The magic of reflections
Koan reflections are a highly evolved version of a weekly update or status report -- the important things you completed, what’s up next, and any problems, issues, or blockers that you’re facing. All that, plus a simple way to check in on the progress of the team’s goals or OKRs.
Reflections are the magic at the heart of Koan’s product-led strategy. They help teams build the habit, they keep individual users engaged, they increase visibility around the work, and they foster collaboration. When we originally built reflections, they were intended to not only help teams track progress on goals, but actually facilitate two-way conversations about the right things.
Opportunities for delivering high-value
Like any good B2B SaaS company, Koan needs to deliver high-value interactions at every stage of the product journey. Between product analytics and customer feedback, we knew we had some huge opportunities and ways we could improve the reflection experience.
Transparency across teams. Customers often request easier ways to share and collaborate on reflections. Both third-party research and our own conversations with top-performing organizations reveal the importance of cross-functional awareness, and of having space for open communication between peers and managers.
Build the habit. Like many growth loops in other social or collaboration apps, the Goal-Reflection loop reinforces a positive habit. But like any good habit, you have to consistently build it and maintain it for it to work. As we all know, it's much easier to build a habit if there is an incentive—and especially for something as seemingly mundane as a weekly status update.
Building blocks for success
In our latest release, we mentioned that we are reimagining reflections in phases. We’re starting with reading reflections (spoiler alert: there are other exciting upgrades in the works!). During this initial phase, we’re focused on:
Setting up for the future. Revamping the reading experience lays the foundation for our engineering team to iterate quickly on future updates to the reflection process. We’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make sure that the performance of the app is where it should be. This also includes new navigation, a total rewrite of how reflection data are managed, and an emphasis on reactive, real-time updates. All of these are tools we intend to build heavily on in future phases.
Increase engagement with inline commenting. Making it easier for people to engage with each others’ reflections also means simplifying conversations and increasing communication around goal progress. Users can comment directly beneath a line item in other users’ reflections, which helps to create intentional space for feedback and conversations. By offering expanded social actions and inline comments, it validates and rewards team members for sharing updates.
Inline commenting for the (engagement) win
As one of the most requested features within Koan, inline commenting now allows users to have more impactful conversations by commenting directly beneath line items throughout the reflection.
As a product team, we spent a lot of time brainstorming how we wanted this functionality to work, in order to make it more engaging, while still easy and intuitive to use. Some of the options we considered included:
Option 1: Comments are displayed at the bottom of the page. This was how the previous functionality worked, and we found that while this was simple, it had relatively low engagement and wasn’t intuitive for most users.
Option 2: Comments displayed inline. This approach offers visibility so views can see everything in one place, but ultimately we decided against this because it takes a lot of real estate and would potentially require a lot of scrolling.
The Winner: Inline comments open a card. This would have a simple look and feel, but provide a focused conversation thread for commenters. We didn’t want comments to get in the way or distract from reading the reflection itself. This UX also created a placeholder for future functionality as our reflections project continued to evolve. Ultimately the inline comments as a card helped balance ease-of-use, discovery, and scalability of comments and reactions against the core reflection-reading experience.
Stay tuned for more exciting features and product-led blog posts that provide a behind-the-scenes look at how we’re building Koan. As always, if you have any questions about what we’ve covered in this post, feel free to send us a note or reach out on Intercom. And if you haven’t already signed up, get started managing your goals and (new) reflections using Koan absolutely free.