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9 product prioritization tools to optimize your feature roadmap
Prioritizing product features is a complex juggling act between what users want and need from a product, and the company’s wider business goals and resources.
Without the right tools to quantify decisions and manage your product roadmap, even streamlined teams will struggle to prioritize the product backlog and keep everyone working towards the same goal.
While there’s no single tool to get you through the whole process, this chapter will take you through the best tools to use to identify, prioritize, plan, and launch product features.
Why product teams need prioritization tools
Prioritization is about numbers, not opinions. Making a decision based on a gut feeling might work out sometimes, but it’s not a scalable or repeatable process for a product team to build on.
Tools will help your team:
Collect and manage qualitative and quantitative user insights
Display and share data with the product team and stakeholders
Assign and compare prioritization scores objectively, without bias
Stay on top of tasks and deadlines in the short and long term
Product teams that prioritize… reduce biases, make more data-informed decisions, avoid decision paralysis, create transparency around priorities of different teams, and help communicate those to users and stakeholders.
Types of product prioritization tools
There are no one-size-fits-all product prioritization tools, nor is there just one tool that will do everything you need. Today, product managers need a range of tools to effectively fill and prioritize the product backlog, including
Product experience tools: to understand how customers use a product
Product feedback tools: to collect feature requests from customers
Feature prioritization tools: to score and prioritize new features and fixes
Product roadmap tools: to manage and share the product roadmap with teams and customers
By combining the best of these tools, you’ll see the bigger picture and learn where to focus your product prioritization efforts to keep your team on track.
2 product experience tools to discover how customers use features
You can’t prioritize new product features and fixes with guesswork. These two product experience tools from Hotjar (that’s us!) will give you the quantitative and qualitative data needed to prioritize product features that drive results, and see which ones need to be deleted or archived.
Hotjar has been instrumental in helping us make changes quickly. Sometimes there were things we intuitively knew, but Hotjar helped us prioritize and make the important changes straight away.
Heatmaps give stakeholders and teams a clear, visual overview of how people interact with a product page. By seeing where users do and don’t click and scroll, you uncover the most popular and ignored features, and can add and prioritize bug fixes to your product backlog.
With Hotjar’s continuous heatmaps, you can turn simple click and scroll maps into more powerful tools by filtering them by features like rage click, which instantly shows you where users keep click, click, clicking in vain and getting stuck.
Session recordings (aka replays) give a clear picture of how an individual user experiences your product, helping you build a case for feature updates with data. Hotjar’s Recordings help you map the user journey from entry to exit and add much-needed qualitative data to the feature prioritization process. To help you save time, Hotjar automatically prioritizes recordings by relevance, from very high to very low, so you can focus on the ones that are most likely to give actionable insights and inform your product decisions.
Pro tip: you can also use session recordings to measure the adoption of new features once you’ve prioritized and rolled them out.
“We released a new feature and were able to see a customer navigate right to a specific part of the feature we highlighted in a user email.” –Stephen Ippolito, Product Manager at Marlin
2 product feedback tools to collect input from customers
Heatmaps and recordings only show you what customers are doing passively. You also need to actively hear what users want and need from your product in their own words.
Here are two tools to collect voice of the customer (VoC) feedback from users that can help inform your product prioritization.
If you aren't using both qualitative and quantitative research to inform your product strategy, you will fail.
Surveys are the easiest way to ask users what’s working well or missing from your product. You can cut to the chase and set up a survey to ask users for feature requests, or ask users about their experience with your product, instead.
Hotjar Surveys let you target users to get product feedback from a specific cohort (for example, paying customers instead of free users or users with a total customer lifetime value over a specific amount). You can also use page targeting to trigger a survey when a customer reaches a certain product page or clicks a button.
2. Feedback widgets
Users can’t point at their screens and tell you what’s bugging (or exciting) them about your product. But Hotjar’s Feedback tool gets you close: users can tag any element on the page and send their product feedback straight to you.
Pro tip: get more context by combining feedback with recordings.
While viewing feedback responses in the Hotjar dashboard, you’ll see a play icon if there’s a recording captured from the same session. Click it to connect the dots between what the user said (their feedback response) and what they experienced (session recording) while using your product.
3 feature prioritization tools to validate what to build next
Based on the data you’ve collected from heatmaps, recordings, and user feedback, you should now have a list of the product features users need fixing and want adding. The next step is to decide if features are worth implementing based on the effort it will take to develop versus the value they’ll bring.
These three all-in-one tools will help you manage and prioritize product features in line with your product strategy.
Jira (from Atlassian) is an all-in-one project management tool that helps Agile software teams plan, track, and ship updates. We use Jira here at Hotjar to plan, prioritize, and track our entire product roadmap.
Jira is the central place where we plan, refine, track, and execute our work. It’s like a destination, roadmap, and odometer all in one.
Jira does not have built-in scoring for feature prioritization, but there are several prioritization apps in the Atlassian marketplace that make it easier. For example, Issue Score for Jira adds functionality to rate, weight, and prioritize features using popular weighted scoring models like WSJF (Weighted Shortest Job First) and ICE (Impact, Confidence, Ease), or custom formulas.
There’s also Foxly Backlog Prioritization, which adds predefined and custom product prioritization templates to Jira and generates a priority matrix for an at-a-glance overview of how features compare.
Instead of relying on standard product prioritization frameworks like RICE (Return, Impact, Confidence, Ease) or MoSCoW (Must-Have, Should-Have, Could-Have, Won’t-Have), Productboard has its own prioritization system that lets you quantify the value and effort of each feature and create an overall prioritization score (out of 100).
Productboard also generates a prioritization matrix so you can visualize the trade-off between a feature’s value and effort against each of your business objectives.
Plus, if you’re using Hotjar to collect product insights, Zapier will connect it with Productboard and automatically create new notes and features from Recordings, Feedback, and Survey responses so you can manage everything in one place.
Aha! Ideas is a feature request tool that lets customers suggest and vote on their favorite product updates. You can also import customer feedback from other tools, including Hotjar, to keep all your product feedback in one place.
Aha! has a built-in scorecard for ranking product features for prioritization. You can customize the scorecard metrics, scale, and weighting, which means you can use it with most standard prioritization frameworks or your own.
Pro tip: connect Hotjar and Aha! using Zapier to automatically create new ideas, features, and activities in Aha! from Hotjar Feedback, Recordings, and Survey responses.
For example, try setting up a feature request survey in Hotjar and send responses straight into Aha! Ideas, ready to be upvoted and commented on by other customers.
2 product roadmap tools to manage and share feature updates
A roadmap gives a top-level visual overview of the product’s vision, direction, and progress. While all the feature prioritization tools we covered above also let you create roadmaps, these two popular roadmap tools are often used to specifically manage and share product updates, both internally with teams and stakeholders, and publicly with customers.
Trello is a project management tool from Atlassian, the team behind Jira. At Hotjar, we use Trello to create and share our public product roadmap, in line with our core value of “building trust with transparency,” allowing everyone see what features we’ve shipped and what’s coming next.
We use columns in our Trello board to group new feature releases and improvements by Hotjar’s different tools (Heatmaps, Recordings, and Feedback) so anyone can jump straight to the updates they care about.
ProductPlan is product roadmap software that allows teams to build and share unlimited roadmaps for individual projects or tasks. Unlike Trello, ProductPlan’s roadmaps have multiple layouts so you can view tasks in a calendar, list, or table.
ProductPlan can also be used to share public roadmaps, for example this accessibility roadmap from The University of Birmingham.
Prioritize with confidence
Hotjar's product experience insights help your product team confidently decide which backlog features need to be prioritized—and why.