Web Development

Design Systems

About the Project

CircleIn is a free virtual community supported by the National Science Foundation that facilitates student collaboration and community-building. Their platform helps undergraduate students engage better with their peers and improve their chances of course completion.

We helped CircleIn continue its mission to serve students worldwide with an updated platform that promoted better engagement, delivered superior UX, and strengthened its community.






Web Development

Design Systems

The Challenge

CircleIn’s chat function—one of their platform’s most used features—was experiencing performance issues. Frequent crashes and long wait times severely impacted user experience and discouraged students from engaging in the platform.

In addition, CircleIn’s current development process made scaling and collaboration difficult. Their system’s accumulated tech debt resulted in frequent regression bugs and poor user and developer experiences.

The Process

CircleIn’s team proposed an ambitious solution to the chat function’s problems: build an experience with features inspired by Slack and Discord. To deliver on that vision and optimize their development process, our team:

  • Improved collaboration with a set of best practices and documentation

  • Enhanced code quality with new workflows and refactored the UI components

  • Integrated automated end-to-end testing and build processes

  • Reduced operating costs and improved site performance by optimizing user flows

The new development process and refactored components enabled our team to overhaul UI/UX elements throughout the website and build a new set of features:

  • Chat. CircleIn’s revamped chat feature is faster, highly responsive, and allows users to share files more easily.

  • Communities. Modeled after Discord, CircleIn’s new Communities feature provides users with more opportunities to engage in CircleIn’s platform.

  • Notifications. Users now receive real-time notifications on relevant events and changes.

Jon Tseng / CTO / CircleIn profile
Torii's process made a huge impact on our team from the first week. With only ten engineers, we were able to build a top-notch chat experience comparable to Slack and Discord!"
Jon Tseng / CTO / CircleIn

The Results

CircleIn’s renovated platform offers students an outstanding user experience with modern features that give them more ways to connect and share ideas. The new development process led to greater collaboration among CircleIn’s development team and enabled them to:

  • Increase overall performance by 3X

  • Reduce the number of regression bugs by 5x with automated test+build

  • Boost front-end server speed by 1,200%

  • Optimize chat performance by 4X

The website’s speedier load times, optimized SEO, and improved accessibility led to an increase in user engagement of 3X shortly after launch. Together, these achievements demonstrate the significant business value a focus on performance and UX can yield.

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