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Product design

This handbook page details processes specific to working with and within this department.

Team

Role Contributor(s)
Head of Product Design Noah Talerman (@noahtalerman)
Head of Design Mike Thomas (@mike-j-thomas)
Product Designer Rachael Shaw (@rachaelshaw), Marko Lisica (@marko-lisica)
Developer Eric Shaw (@eashaw)

Contact us

  • To make a request of this department, create an issue and a team member will get back to you within one business day (If urgent, mention a team member in #help-product-design.
    • Please use issue comments and GitHub mentions to communicate follow-ups or answer questions related to your request.
    • Any Fleet team member can view the kanban board for this department, including pending tasks and the status of new requests.

Responsibilities

The Product Design department is responsible for reviewing and collecting feedback from users, would-be users, and future users, prioritizing changes, designing the changes, and delivering these changes to the engineering team. Product Design prioritizes and shapes all changes involving functionality or usage, including the UI, REST API, command line, and webhooks.

Release relavent Figma files

  • Once your designs are reviewed and approved, change the status on the cover page of the relevant Figma file and move the issue to the "Settled" column.
  • After each release (every 3 weeks) make sure you change the status on the cover page of the relevant Figma files that you worked on during the sprint to "Released".
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Questions and missing information: Take a screenshot of the area in Figma and start a thread in the #help-product-design Slack channel and paste in the screenshot. Figma does have a commenting system, but it is not easy to search for outstanding concerns and is therefore not preferred.

For external contributors: please consider opening an issue with reference screenshots if you have a Figma related question you need to resolve.

Create a new Figma file

At Fleet, like GitLab and other organizations, every change to the product's UI gets wireframed first.

  • Take the top user story that is assigned to you in the "Prioritized" column of the drafting board.

  • Create a new file inside the Fleet product Figma project. See Working with Figma below for more details.

  • Use dev notes (component available in our library) to highlight important information to engineers and other teammates.

  • Draft changes to the Fleet product that solve the problem specified in the story. Constantly place yourself in the shoes of a user while drafting changes. Place these drafts in the appropriate Figma file in Fleet product project.

  • Be intentional about changes to design components (e.g. button border-radius or modal width) because these are expensive. They'll require code changes and QA in multiple parts of the product. Propose changes to a design component as part of an already-prioritized user story instead of making a new request in 🎁🗣 Feature Fest.

  • While drafting, reach out to sales, customer success, and demand for a business perspective.

  • While drafting, engage engineering to gain insight into technical costs and feasibility.

When starting a new draft:

  • Create a new file inside the Fleet product project by duplicating "[TEMPLATE] Starter file" (pinned to the top of the project).
  • Right-click on the duplicated file, select "Share", and ensure anyone with the link can view the file.
  • Rename each Figma file to include the number and name of the corresponding issue on the drafting board. (e.g. # 11766 Instructions for Autopilot enrollment).
  • The starter file includes 3 predefined pages: Cover, Ready, and Scratchpad.
    • Cover. This page has a component with issue number, issue name, and status fields. There are 3 statuses: Work in progress, Approved, and Released (the main source of truth is still the drafting board).
    • Ready. Use this page to communicate designs reviews and development.
    • Scratchpad. Use this page for work in progress and design that might be useful in the future.
  • If the story requires API changes, open a draft PR with the proposed API design.

Schedule a design review

  • Prepare your draft in the user story issue.
  • Prepare the agenda for your design review meeting, which should be an empty document other than the proposed changes you will present.
  • Review the draft with the CEO at one of the daily design review meetings, or schedule an ad-hoc design review if you need to move faster. (Efficient access to design reviews on-demand is a priority for Fleet's CEO. Emphasizing design helps us live our empathy value.)
  • When introducing a story, clarify which review "mode" the CEO should operate in:
    • Final review mode — you are 70% sure the design is 100% done.
    • Feedback mode — you know the design is not ready for final review, but would like to get early feedback. Before bringing something in feedback mode consider whether the CEO will be best for giving feedback or if it would be better suited for someone else (engineer or PM).
  • During the review meeting, take detailed notes of any feedback on the draft.
  • Address the feedback by modifying your draft.
  • Rinse and repeat at subsequent sessions until there is no more feedback.
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As drafting occurs, inevitably, the requirements will change. The main description of the issue should be the single source of truth for the problem to be solved and the required outcome. The product manager is responsible for keeping the main description of the issue up-to-date. Comments and other items can and should be kept in the issue for historical record-keeping.

Ensure story drafting is complete

Once a story has gone through design and is considered "Settled", it moves to the "Settled" column on the drafting board and assign to the Engineering Manager (EM).

Before assigning an EM to estimate a user story, the product designer ensures the product section of the user story checklist is complete.

Once a bug has gone through design and is considered "Settled", the designer removes the :product label and moves the issue to the 'Sprint backlog' column on the "Bugs" board and assigns the group engineering manager.

Revise a draft currently in development

Expedited drafting is the revision of drafted changes currently being developed by the engineering team. Expedited drafting aims to quickly adapt to unknown edge cases and changing specifications while ensuring that Fleet meets our brand and quality guidelines.

You'll know it's time for expedited drafting when:

  • The team discovers that a drafted user story is missing crucial information that prevents contributors from continuing the development task.
  • A user story is taking more effort than was originally estimated, and Product Manager wants to find ways to cut aspects of planned functionality in order to still ship the improvement in the currently scheduled release.
  • A user story on the drafting board won't reach "Settled" by the last estimation session in the current sprint and cannot wait until the next sprint. This can also happen when we decide to bring a user story in mid-sprint.

What happens during expedited drafting?

  1. If the user story wasn't "Settled" by the last estimation session, the product group's engineering manager (EM), release DRI, and Head of Product Design are notified in #help-product-design. Decision to allow the user story to make it into the sprint is up to the release DRI.
  2. If the user story is already in the sprint, the EM, release DRI, and Head of Product Design are notified in #help-product-design. If there are significant changes to the requirements, then the user story might be pushed to the next sprint. Decision is up to the release DRI.
  3. If the release DRI decides the user story will be worked on this sprint, drafts are updated or finished.
  4. UI changes are approved, and the UI changes are brought back into the sprint or are estimated.

Correctly prioritize a bug

Bugs are always prioritized. (Fleet takes quality and stability very seriously.) Bugs should be prioritized in the following order:

  1. Quality: product does what it's supposed to (what is documented).
  2. Common-sense user criticality: If no one can load any page, that's obviously important.
  3. Age of bugs: Long-open bugs are open wounds bleeding quality out of the product. They must be closed quickly.
  4. Customer criticality: How important it is to a customer use case.

If a bug is unreleased or critical, it is addressed in the current sprint. Otherwise, it may be prioritized and estimated for the next sprint. If a bug requires drafting to determine the expected functionality, the bug should undergo expedited drafting.

If a bug is not addressed within six weeks, it is sent to the product team for triage. Each sprint, the Head of Product Design reviews these bugs. Bugs are categorized as follows:

  • Schedule: the bug should be prioritized in the next sprint if there's engineering capacity for it.
  • De-prioritized: the issue will be closed and the necessary subsequent steps will be initiated. This might include updating documentation and informing the community.

The Head of Product Design meets with the Director of Product Development to discuss and finalize the outcomes for the churned bugs.

After aligning with the Director of Product Development on the outcomes, The Head of Product Design will clean up churned bugs. Below are the steps for each category:

  • Schedule: Remove the :product label, move the bug ticket to the 'Sprint backlog' column on the bug board, and assign it to the appropriate group's Engineering Manager so that it can be prioritized into the sprint backlog.
  • De-prioritized: The Head of Product Design should close the issue and, as the DRI, ensure all follow-up actions are finalized.

Write a user story

Product Managers write user stories in the drafting board. The drafting board is shared by every product group.

Draft a user story

Product Designers draft user stories that have been prioritized by PMs. If the estimated user stories for a product group exceed that group's capacity, all new design work for that group is paused, and the designer will contribute in other ways (documentation & handbook work, Figma maintenance, QA, etc.) until the PM deprioritizes estimated stories to make room, or until the next sprint begins. (If the designer has existing work-in-progress, they will continue to review and iterate on those designs and see the stories through to estimation.)

If an issue's title or user story summary ("as a…I want to…so that") does not match the intended change being discussed, the designer will move the issue to the "Needs clarity" column of the drafting board and assign the group product manager. The group product manager will revisit ASAP and edit the issue title and user story summary, then reassign the designer and move the issue back to the "Prioritized" column.

Engineering Managers estimate user stories. They are responsible for delivering planned work in the current sprint (0-3 weeks) while quickly getting user stories estimated for the next sprint (3-6 weeks). Only work that is slated to be released into the hands of users within ≤six weeks will be estimated. Estimation is run by each group's Engineering Manager and occurs on the drafting board.

Rank features before release

These measures exist to keep all contributors (including other departments besides engineering and product) up to date with improvements and changes to the Fleet product. This helps folks plan and communicate with customers and users more effectively.

After the kickoff of a product sprint, the demand and product teams decide which improvements are most important to highlight in this release, whether that's through social media "drumbeat" tweets, collaboration with partners, or emphasized content blocks within the release blog post.

When an improvement gets scheduled for release, the Head of Product sets its "echelon" to determine the emphasis the company will place on it. This leveling is based on the improvement's desirability and timeliness, and will affect demand effort for the feature.

  • Echelon 1: A major product feature announcement. The most important release types, these require a specific and custom demand package. Usually including an individual blog post, a demo video and potentially a press release or official product demand launch. There is a maximum of one echelon 1 product announcement per release sprint.
  • Echelon 2: A highlighted feature in the release notes. This product feature will be highlighted at the top of the Sprint Release blog post. Depending on the feature specifics this will include: a 1-2 paragraph write-up of the feature, a demo video (if applicable) and a link to the docs. Ideally there would be no more than three echelon 2 features in a release post, otherwise the top features will be crowded.
  • Echelon 3: A notable feature to mention in the changelog. Most product improvements fit into this echelon. This includes 1-2 sentences in the changelog and release blog post.

Create release issue

Before each release, the Head of Product creates a "Release" issue, which includes a list of all improvements included in the upcoming release. Each improvement links to the relevant bug or user story issue on GitHub so it is easy to read the related discussion and history.

The product team is responsible for providing the demand team with the necessary information for writing the release blog post. Every three weeks after the sprint is kicked off, the product team meets with the relevant demand team members to go over the features for that sprint and recommend items to highlight as echelon 2 features and provide relevant context for other features to help demand decide which features to highlight.

Consider a feature eligible to be flagged

At Fleet, features are placed behind feature flags if the changes could affect Fleet's availability of existing functionalities. The following highlights should be considered when deciding if we should leverage feature flags:

  • The feature flag must be disabled by default.
  • The feature flag will not be permanent. This means that the Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) who decides a feature flag should be introduced is also responsible for creating an issue to track the feature's progress towards removing the feature flag and including the feature in a stable release.
  • The feature flag will not be advertised. For example, advertising in the documentation on fleetdm.com/docs, release notes, release blog posts, and Twitter.
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Fleet's feature flag guidelines is borrowed from GitLab's "When to use feature flags" section of their handbook. Check out GitLab's "Feature flags only when needed" video for an explanation of the costs of introducing feature flags.

Consider promoting a feature as "beta"

At Fleet, features are advertised as "beta" if there are concerns that the feature may not work as intended in certain Fleet deployments. For example, these concerns could be related to the feature's performance in Fleet deployments with hundreds of thousands of hosts.

The following highlights should be considered when deciding if we promote a feature as "beta:"

  • The feature will not be advertised as "beta" permanently. This means that the Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) who decides a feature is advertised as "beta" is also responsible for creating an issue that explains why the feature is advertised as "beta" and tracking the feature's progress towards advertising the feature as "stable."
  • The feature will be advertised as "beta" in the documentation on fleetdm.com/docs, release notes, release blog posts, and Twitter.

Maintain current versions

Fleet's product depends on the capabilities of other platforms.

Every week, a member of the product team looks up whether there is:

  1. a new major or minor version of macOS
  2. a new major or minor version of CIS Benchmarks Windows 10 Enterprise
  3. a new major or minor version of CIS Benchmarks macOS 13 Ventura
  4. a release of CIS Benchmarks for macOS 14 Sonoma
  5. a new major or minor version of ChromeOS

The DRI should record the latest versions in the maintenance tracker and then notify the #help-product-design Slack channel with an update, noting the current versions and highlighting any changes.

View Fleet usage statistics

In order to understand the usage of the Fleet product, we collect statistics from installations where this functionality is enabled.

Fleeties can view these statistics in the Google spreadsheet Fleet usage available in Google Drive.

Some of the data is forwarded to Datadog and is available to Fleeties.

Rituals

Stubs

The following stubs are included only to make links backward compatible.

Maintenance

Please see handbook/product#maintain-current-versions

New CIS benchmarks

Please see handbook/product#submit-a-new-cis-benchmark-set-for-certification

Usage statistics

Please see handbook/product#view-fleet-usage-statistics

Please see handbook/product#create-a-new-figma-file for below

Create a new file
Wireframing

Please see handbook/product#create-a-new-figma-file for above

Competition

Please see handbook/company/communications#competition

Breaking changes

Please see handbook/company/product-groups#breaking-changes

Making changes to the product

Please see handbook/product#responsibilities

Please see handbook/product#release-relevant-figma-files for below

Working with Figma
Keep projects/files clean and up-to-date
Questions and missing information

Please see handbook/product#release-relevant-figma-files for above

Scheduling design reviews

Please see handbook/product#schedule-a-design-review

Settled

Please see handbook/product#ensure-product-user-story-is-complete

Expedited drafting

Please see handbook/product#revise-a-draft-currently-in-development

Outside contributions

Please see handbook/product#outside-contributions

Prioritizing bugs

Please see handbook/product#correctly-prioritize-a-bug

Writing user stories

Please see handbook/product#write-a-user-story

Drafting user stories

Please see handbook/product#draft-a-user-story

Estimating user stories

Please see handbook/product#estimate-a-user-story

Sprints

Please see handbook/company/product-groups#sprints

Sprint numbering

Please see handbook/company/product-groups#sprint-numbering

Product design conventions

Please see handbook/company/product-groups#product-design-conventions

Wireframes

Please see handbook/company/product-groups#wireframes

Please see handbook/product#rank-features-before-release for below

Release
Ranking features

Please see handbook/product#rank-features-before-release for above

Blog post

Please see handbook/product#create-release-issue

Feature flags

Please see handbook/product#consider-a-feature-eligible-to-be-flagged

Beta features

Please see handbook/product#consider-promoting-a-feature-as-beta

Feature fest

Please see handbook/product-groups#feature-fest

Making a request

Please see handbook/product-groups#making-a-request

Please see handbook/product-groups#how-feature-requests-are-evaluated

How feature requests are evaluated
Prioritizing improvements

Please see handbook/product-groups#how-feature-requests-are-evaluated

Customer feature requests

Please see handbook/product-groups#customer-feature-requests

After the feature is accepted

Please see handbook/product-groups#after-the-feature-is-accepted

Restart Algolia manually

Please see handbook/digital-experience#restart-algolia-manually

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