Presentation critique: Slack

Prior to CS3216, I’ve never heard of this app called Slack. So when i heard people talking about Slack, I assumed that it is an app meant for coders to discuss and talk about work. I carried that assumption along with me as the presentation began, and truth be told, it was a little confusing. But I’m gonna attribute the confusion to having a misconception early on.

What Slack is essentially is a team communication and integration tool. It has real time messaging, and it syncs automatically with different platforms.

Articles online have been singing its praises, and some have even touted it as the next big thing to replace email. In the fast paced society today, instant messaging does seem to have its edge over the traditional email and its not difficult to see why most people prefer it over sending emails.

In the presentation, the group suggested voice messaging as a way to improve the app. That suggestion drew a lot of feedback, almost entirely negative. While I feel that it is not a major feature that they lack. However I guess it is still useful to include multiple methods of achieving communication, should there be any specific situations where typing might be a problem, or if using voice messaging is simply the better option. (like in the case where Chinese users find it difficult to type in chinese)

‘Details make the design
One thing I noticed about Slack is how we can determine the sort of notifications we receive, by setting certain words as the ‘trigger’. This feature sounds really useful, especially when group chats contain many participants and certain messages are not important for everyone. It also means that users in a huge group project wouldn’t be subjected to checking notifications that do not relate to them at all, and this saves a lot of time.

Initially, I felt that its a pity they didn’t have a calendar or a system to show everyone’s tasks on hand. For an app who’s main users are project collaborators, it felt like there should be some way for users to see what the workload of their peers. However, it also makes sense that Slack should just focus on communication, instead of branching out to task allocation etc.

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http://www.fastcodesign.com/3050675/designers-should-design-coders-should-code

Here’s an article I stumbled upon over the week. It talks about how and why designers should be left to design, and how designers and coders should learn to understand each others’ way of working. I found this article really useful as it does highlight the differences between both fields. I hope this goes out to all those who found it difficult to work with each other.

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Presentation critique: Slack

Week 3- Zopic x Bjorn talk

The talk by Bjorn Lee and Zopim was really insightful and refreshing. I’d expected lots of tech talk but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.

What I learnt from Bjorn was that design is all but one of the crucial elements involved in commercial success. It was the first time I’ve heard of those advice that he spoke about. He’s a really engaging speaker too. Although some of the methods he spoke about are pretty unorthodox, it seems like it really works.

Most importantly, the necessary element in succeeding seems to be passion and drive. You could almost hear it in his voice. That could be something missing from people nowadays, but i might be generalizing. I won’t touch on the points he spoke about, but I REALLY enjoyed his talk, please try to get him back for all the future batches haha!

Zopim’s talk also shed a lot of light to the hard truth behind start ups. How it isn’t always glitz and blitz. Over the holidays I found a short internship at a local Design firm, Monocoque. It was founded by a few of my seniors from Industrial Design, and coincidentally 2 of them are alumni of CS3216. I guess its partly thanks to them that I ended up here- they told me to go for it although its a hell module and i’ll be drowning in work. and its true, i’m starting to feel the heat. But talks and insights I gained from the talks really made me feel like its worth the effort and busyness. (Yuan Kai and Benjamin, if you guys can recall)

Anyway back to Zopim, Wenxiang really shared a lot of things that outsiders can never tell from observation. The struggles they’ve been through, the stupid things they did, how they learnt and how they stuck together despite all the hardships. It makes me wonder if I can find friends like that, who truly believe in Design, and whether we can meet people who share the drive and skills. Maybe even if the start-up fails and we have to eat grass, we would still be content that we tried and died.

Week 3- Zopic x Bjorn talk

Week 2

The biggest takeaway this week during lecture was about the scrum technique. I’ve never really heard of that before and it seems really useful, especially for a project where there are multiple roles involved.

However, looking back at all my past projects, I’ll have to say that its a really difficult technique that requires the cooperation of everyone in the team. The roles and job scopes must be clearly defined within the team, and they all have to know that they’re contributing to the bigger picture. At times it feels like this is unachievable, because teammates can be friendly and eager to discuss and help each other with work. The boundaries get really blurred at times. It is still a great tool, and I can see it in action nonetheless!

I’ve also learnt about wireframes and mockups. I’ve always thought that paper mockups were the way to go, before advancing to later stages of prototyping. Invision was entirely new to me, and the mockups it produces are amazing. Further discussion with my team also led to me learning about how keynote/powerpoint can be also used as a really fast way of prototyping!

Talking about teammates, I feel its so much easier to learn from them and asking them questions, instead of poring through websites and books about whatever simple questions I have. Perhaps the unexpected initial inertia of asking questions (because I sound really stupid asking questions that probably sound ridiculous) is now lowered 😀

Looking forward to tomorrow’s lecture with people from Zendesk too, and hopefully we get enough rest because it’s definitely gonna be another mad rush to the end of the week :/

Week 2

What I hope to learn from CS3216

Coming from a design background, I really don’t know what to expect from this intensive computing module. I come from Industrial Design, a field which includes many different aspects of design, including UI/UX. I have extremely little experience in coding or programming, and I feel that it might be a struggle to keep up this semester.

I want to find out what it is like to work with a team of coders to produce a fully working app. My experiences with app creation has been really limited, as my team consisted of only designers. Without the help of coders and programmers, we didn’t know what could or couldn’t be achieved.

Furthermore, this is first time I’m working with people across different disciplines, on a project that can possibly make it to the ‘real world’. The thought of it is really exciting! It will challenge and improve our communication skills and ability to work in teams. Conflicts will arise, and hopefully all of us will learn to work better at the end of the day.

To cap it up, I’m just thrilled to be able to work with pretty much expert coders and to know that I can also contribute to the team to create something new and cool. My biggest takeaway at the end of the sem might most probably be about systems and IT and techy stuffs, things which I have no clue about right now.

I’m gonna keep it real short for now. Till next time!

What I hope to learn from CS3216