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Slack

Re-imagining how Slack can organize, and prioritize important information.
About

*This is an unsolicited feature design proposal. This is a personal project for me to learn about designing for cognitive differences in the context of project management flow.

Timeline
December 2018 (2 weeks)
My Roles
UX/UI Designer
UX Strategist
UX Researcher
Tools
Invision Studios
Problem Space

Slack, a main workplace communication tool, has turned email into a more social platform. This can mean more messages, more social expectancies of instant replies, and losing information through the messages.

In Slack, context is usually needed when managing a project. Information can easily be lost, and can be frustrating to look for any specific changes that have been discussed.

Having Slack etiquette can be important for a team to avoid potential distracting elements, and protect psychological safety when away from work.

A lower attention span can come with decision fatigue, issues with focusing, distractions, and forgetfulness.

These factors can make it hard to get away from work outside of work, and back into workflows.

Strategy

Taking my learnings from Radical Research Summit 2018, I focused my thinking on how to make incremental changes in delightful moments to reduce stress in users from social expectations of the platform.

"Empathy doesn't just happen when you're with the user, but it also happens when you leave the room. Where does it take place? How does it take place?" — Vivianne Castillo

Content can be scattered all across messages and channels. What if there was a space to make coordination of content and tools?

Exploration of Design Solutions

When designing for protecting users time and attention, how might we break down barriers to help users prioritize and organize information so they're ready for work?

Before: Quick search only leads to the document file, all context and info are lost.

Feature A:
Prioritizing frequently used files for quick access

Instead of having files fight for your attention, they can easily be reached through tabs.

Important information that’s placed within these files are also attached so it reduces the amount of time you have to find what you’re looking for. This removes the extra step of having to do a search and seeing a mix of long links and visuals.

After: All the information and context with the docs are pinned to the tab.

Feature B:
Auto-Away reply messages to manage focus

When notifications are muted, there may be a miscommunication or the person on the other side may think they said something wrong. There is no feedback after a response, despite setting your status to ‘Do Not Disturb’.

With an auto-reply, users can better expect when to get a reply, and can figure out a way around other tasks.

Slack's Changes

By mid December, Slack made a blog post about improvements to the application. I found a feature that was similar to my Feature B proposal that I was prototyping.

It was so awesome to see how they were working on these issues at the same time that I was prototyping these interactions!

Next Steps

As a speculative project, I would continue testing to come up with an MVP.

I also thought about exploring edge cases within the MVP solutions such as:

• There are many options for users to takeaway tasks, how might Slack come up with their own etiquette 'packs' for individuals to use and modify?

• How might providing Slack templates help users better process and organize information?

• What if users could create their own personal shortcuts to threads?

Lessons Learned

Do quick, lo-fi, rapid prototypes first
By starting with paper, this helped me not stress too much about components but understanding what ideas were potentially viable, and which didn’t make sense with the problem space I was aiming for.