From the community: Feature flags are great for designers like me
As a product designer I’m constantly working on designing new features and updates to improve my team’s product. However, the process of deploying these updates can be challenging and time-consuming. Feature flagging makes it easier to manage updates and roll out new features in a controlled and flexible manner.
How a designer typically uses feature flags
Let’s go through the steps a product designer usually takes when using feature flags:
Scoping a Feature
When introducing a new feature to a product, it’s important to scope the feature and understand its goals.
In my team’s example, we used feature flagging to introduce a chatbot feature to our landing page, aimed at increasing customer engagement and improving the purchasing process. By scoping the feature we were able to clearly define its objectives and determine how it would fit into the overall user experience.
To improve the performance of a product, it’s essential to conduct design experiments.
In our case, we conducted experiments to improve various aspects of our product, such as implementing a product tour that reduced basic customer service inquiries by 20% and increased customer satisfaction by 90%.
By gradually introducing features, we were able to test and iterate designs before releasing them to the entire user base. This approach helped us catch and address issues early on, saving time and resources that would have been spent on customer service inquiries related to the features.
Hiding behind a Flag
Feature flagging is a powerful tool for controlling the visibility of new features without making constant code changes.
In our example, we used feature flagging to test a new call-to-action button with a small group of users, resulting in a 50% increase in click-through rate compared to the original button.
Integrating feature flagging was simple and allowed for quick iteration on the design, with the ability to easily roll back any issues or bugs. This streamlined the development process and improved the landing page’s overall performance.
Testing and experimenting on a feature
We used feature flagging to test different variations of the landing page and gather feedback from beta users.
By using a “randomizer” function in the feature flagging tool, we were able to make iterative improvements without interrupting the user experience or drawing attention to the changes. Through this approach, we identified a landing page variation that increased conversions by 25% and improved the overall customer experience.
Deploying a feature
Feature flagging can be used to deploy updates quickly and efficiently while minimizing risk.
In our case, we used feature flagging to deploy a new feature on the landing page, testing it with a small group of beta users before deploying it to all users.
This allowed us to identify and address any issues, resulting in a 95% satisfaction rate among users who interacted with the feature.
By using feature flagging, we were able to reduce the deployment time by 50%, saving our team’s valuable resources and allowing us to focus on other important tasks.
Why feature flags are great for design teams
In other words, feature flags can be critical for design teams like mine to use in their design process. They’re incredibly useful for speeding up development, improving collaboration, and ensuring that the user experience is always top-notch.
Faster design, faster development cycles
One of the biggest benefits of using feature flagging in the design process is that it can significantly speed up development cycles.
When designers and developers work in parallel, they can each make progress on their respective tasks without having to wait for the other. This leads to faster time-to-market, and less time spent fixing bugs or resolving conflicts.
For example, if a designer is working on a new feature that needs to be tested, they can create a feature flag and pass it along to the development team. The development team can then integrate the feature into the application and use the feature flag to toggle it on or off as needed.
This allows designers and developers to test the feature in isolation, without affecting the rest of the application, and to make changes as needed.
Feature flags improve collaboration
Another advantage of using feature flagging in the design process is that it can improve collaboration between designers and developers.
By working together and sharing information, designers and developers can make sure that the final product meets both the design and technical requirements. This leads to a better user experience and a more successful product.
For example, if a designer has a vision for a new feature, they can create a feature flag and share it with the development team. The development team can then use the feature flag to implement the feature, and provide feedback to the designer about any technical limitations or challenges.
The designer can then make changes to the design as needed, and the development team can continue to make progress on the implementation. This type of back-and-forth collaboration ensures that the final product is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Less risk means better testing
Feature flagging also helps to reduce the risk of introducing bugs or breaking changes into the application.
By testing new features in isolation, designers and developers can make sure that they work as intended before releasing them to end-users. This helps to reduce the risk of causing disruption or confusion, and ensures that the user experience remains consistent.
For example, if a designer creates a feature flag for a new feature that they want to test, they can use the flag to turn the feature on or off in different parts of the application.
This allows them to see how the feature behaves in different scenarios, and to make any necessary changes before releasing it to end-users. This helps to ensure that the feature works as intended and does not cause any unintended consequences.
Feature flags help ensure a consistent user experience
Finally, using feature flagging in the design process can help to improve the overall user experience.
By testing new features in isolation, designers and developers can make sure that they work as intended, and that they don’t cause any disruption or confusion. This helps to ensure that the user experience remains consistent and that end-users are able to complete their tasks with ease.
For example, if a designer creates a feature flag for a new feature that they want to test, they can use the flag to turn the feature on or off for different groups of users. This allows them to gather feedback from different user segments, and to make any necessary changes before releasing the feature to everyone.
My team has found that feature flagging is an exceedingly potent tool that can enhance the product design process by enabling greater flexibility and a smoother workflow.
By leveraging the conditional logic inherent in if statements, product designers can deploy new features and updates with unparalleled speed and precision.
Whether you’re working on a diminutive or gargantuan project, feature flagging is an invaluable asset that can help you optimize the user experience and augment customer satisfaction to unprecedented heights.