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Cover image for Small Features Matter
Chris Benjamin
Chris Benjamin

Posted on

Small Features Matter

Small features that are useful are worth adding

My day job uses a custom web application in-house that is used by all staff for their daily jobs, we use it more than Outlook.

I recently added a feature to our in-house application that was overwhelmingly accepted by staff, yet I thought it was such a small feature addition that no one would bother, and initially was only for myself.

Back Story

With the global pandemic and some people working in the office, others at home, some are on vacation, it was hard to know who was actually working before reaching out or sending them something to work on. Sure, our HR people knew, but from the IT/Dev side, I had no clue who was in or out and could wait hours only to realize they are off that day. Occasionally I delegate tasks to staff members and more often than not, I was sending requests to staff members that needed a quick response even when they were out of the office.

Idea

I had an idea to solve this for myself. Our custom web application features authentication where users login and logout. I wrote a small feature that only I could see, with a list of users who were currently logged into the system. This helped me know who was actually working that day.

Shows 'Logged In Users' with a green square and the name Chris

Sharing

After using this personally for a few weeks, I offered the feature to the rest of the management staff that were complaining of similar issues. When we all work at home, it's really hard to know if someone is off that day or not aside from our HR department. The other managers were quickly excited and made use of the feature right away. Within 24-hours they requested that I make this feature available to all.

Initially this feature only showed users who had logged in each day but didn't check whether they had logged out. After sharing, some of the feedback requests were to indicate if a user logged out, such as for an appointment, then their name was removed from the list. This feature may never have been added if I didn't share this feature with others.

I immediately began hearing praise from staff members who were excited about a relatively simple feature that allows them to know someone is working that day before calling or emailing to avoid wasted time for our clients.

Conclusion

Small features are worth developing, but more importantly, they are worth sharing. If you create a feature that benefits you, think about whether or not someone else can benefit from the same feature. The feedback you receive from others can actually improve your design in ways you didn't initially realize.

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