Published on : 23rd October, 2015
Before i get any deep into the topic of explaining why Slack deems appropriate and my choice for one of the finest design-centric platform experiences among the existing cauldron of iOS apps, I would like to put forward my take on a quintessential question which cropped up while writing about this app:
Why have I chosen this very app for presenting it as part of a theme and contrast it with any other startup which differs in the vision, goals or the values of the this said startup company?
To answer this question, I would like to take a cue from YourStory’s news article on a rental accommodation startup's funding acquisition from its now-parent company. At one point in the article it mentions that the co-founder and CEO believes that “the rentals problem for the bachelors cannot be solved with having more listings or a better UI but a behavior change in the way owners and seekers communicate, real-time.” It was in this regard that I found that Slack’s integration of machine learning / AI in the form of an assistant named Slackbot was very similar to the propaganda being deployed by many machine-learning based startup companies to ease the target user’s complexity of making a search query by bringing in a virtual assistant to help with queries and in solving issues, if any.
Apple, GoPro, Instagram, Netflix—and now, Slack. Some companies not only dominate their market but inspire true affection from their users. With sharp design and a radically friendly sensibility, Slack - a team communication tool founded by Stewart Butterfield - has everyone chatting for all the right reasons. The team at Slack consciously attempts to solve problems in a way that doesn’t fetishize the purity of UI design at the expense of the user. We have reasons to believe that there was always an understanding that this is a tool people were and are going to spend their entire day in, for which they would have had sought to bring an empathy to the design.
Being in such a saturated B2B messaging market full of strong incumbents such as Atlassian Hipchat, Yammer, and Basecamp’s Campfire, Slack has a crisp, friendly design and a disarming Apple-like playfulness, which integrates smoothly with dozens of other apps and services, which many fans cite as its top appeal. Some of the app’s other value propositions which are indicative of its state-of-the-art experience design elements, exclusive to their product are:
Slack didn’t go the usual route and maintain high professionalism and seriousness. Instead they spoke the language their users spoke. They know their users are SMB owners who are looking for a way to keep communication organized with their team without spending the remainder of their runway. With this, they carefully crafted all of the language on their site and product to make it feel like a real person talking to you every step of the way. This is especially evident when filling out your profile. Most companies take the approach of giving people a list of information to fill out. Slack was incredibly creative on this and had their AI assistant, Slackbot, ask you questions which immediately populated your information.
Slack’s in-app communications are intended to reinforce the idea it’s designed for a regular human being, by other normal people. When you log in for the first time, a dialog box pops up to say, "Hello. Thank you for signing up for Slack. We’re really happy to have you!" In the morning, you might be greeted with cute little phrases such as, "Please enjoy Slack responsibly.” The tiny details aren’t just about personality, but about making the overall experience more pleasant.
Their implementation of getting someone else’s attention is the best I’ve seen. By putting an “@“ anywhere in the text you’re immediately prompted a list of people in your company that you could tag. This concept isn’t new. It was already been made popular by Twitter and Instagram, but it’s a great example on why you should build off of existing behaviors. Another good example is the easy function that can be used to send a mobile sign-on link inside the phone or tablet apps. Who wants to try and type out a long password on a small touch-screen keyboard?
On the flip side, the workability of the app is not all sunshine and buttercups. It does tend to have its share of loop holes as well. Some conspicuous remarks which could be pointed out as room for major improvements in its current version state are as follows:
Nevertheless, the bottom line is that the team at Slack have done what all innovators need to do. They looked at the space, understood what was working and what wasn't and saw an opportunity to create value in ways the incumbents hadn't, a philosophy after our own hearts. If you want your product to stand out among your competitors, be sure to have the following points like Slack:
Slack’s success is probably due to, in some small part, the rise of remote workers, but there’s no doubt that good design has been a major contributor to that success.