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#276 – Design Dash 1

October 29th, 2021

Baking together! Design sprint team

Last week we held our first-ever design retreat in Austin, Texas. This was a milestone for many reasons. We got to meet up with Aviva Pinchas, Head of Growth, in her hometown. We met Senior Growth Designer, Alicia Cressall, for the first time in person. And we tried a new approach to our sprint as outlined by the Sprint book from Google Ventures.

Design retreat photos

During the pandemic we’ve been making efforts to meet in smaller groups in a way that is safe and easier to manage. The number one goal of the retreat was to bond as colleagues, as we are forming our design culture and practice at Parabol.

Austin was a great destination for many reasons:

  • Our team didn’t have to travel too far or cross many time zones.
  • There were many outdoor options for our time together: restaurants with outdoor seating, beautiful parks, fun streets to walk, shops to explore, etc.
  • And perhaps the number one highlight from the trip: we met Aviva’s Full-Fluffy Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Finneas. He made quite the teammate, joining us for a full day of the sprint!

Terry presents concept sketches

While we were together, we wanted to roll up our sleeves and do some design work. We decided to take on one of the more unloved parts of our software: Parabol’s account administration interface.

We’ve heard from a number of customers on how they could be better supported in managing their accounts. We realized this problem space could benefit from a full design sprint to uncover the biggest opportunities and our riskiest ideas. Over the week, we raced toward a scrappy prototype in order to gather feedback from customers this week and next. Using the terms from the Sprint process, we want to know if our ideas are ‘efficient failures’ — we only spent a week! — or ‘flawed successes’ — they have legs, but need improvement.

The sprint team enjoys ice cream on South Congress St.

We left the week with good vibes. We enjoyed amazing food, played games, baked cookies, stretched our legs outdoors, and came away with some exciting design concepts. We can’t wait for the next time we gather!

Metrics

Parabol Metrics, Oct 29 2021

  • Decrease in website sessions is primarily due to a drop in paid search: we've turned off some ads that were sending low-qual traffic, so we're seeing less traffic but more conversions from paid channels
  • Solid increases in user metrics! This week saw higher sign-up numbers, and greater activity across paid accounts
  • Meeting activity is up more than 5%!

This week we…

made great progress in our hiring efforts. We concluded several Batting Practices (short projects with candidates before making an offer) as well as held many interviews. We even got a verbal agreement to accept an offer! More to come…

published a new resource: 50+ Retrospective Questions for your Next Meeting

shipped 6.34.0 which included improvements to how we handle our data

shared prototypes of our new account views with customers. There are several ways we can better support our customers as they manage their accounts. We are testing our biggest ideas so that we can learn and ship the best improvements first.

took over several key roles within the company as our CEO Jordan began parental leave. Our practice of documenting single-purpose roles with distinct accountabilities means we can reassign these to different individuals who have the expertise to fill them.

Next week we’ll…

begin planning our work to ship a first stand-up experience. We have key designs in place and are shifting our sprint capacity toward this organizational goal

wrap up Sprint 90 on the Product team. We’re focused on a few key integrations and an exciting new feature for retro meetings. More to come…

continue to host customer feedback sessions. This a great opportunity to build rapport with our customers while validating our biggest and riskiest ideas before building them.


Have feedback? See something that you like or something you think could be better? Leave a public response here, or write to us.

Terry Acker

Terry specializes in front-end architecture, UX strategy, UI design, and brand systems. He has previously worked for Quirky, BoomTown, and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, and has served as an advisor to several early stage start-ups.

Reflections from multiple team members

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