Jenny Hottle | INST 631
Hall of Shame: My Apartment Oven
Hall of Fame: Slack
Hall of Shame: My Apartment Oven
My hall of shame is something that frustrates me on almost a daily basis. When I go to bake something and turn on the oven, a light turns on to let me know that the oven is preheating. When the oven is fully heated, the light turns off. The problem with this, is that the light is also off when the entire oven is off. More than once, I’ve walked away from the kitchen only to come back an hour or so later and notice that it’s really hot by the stove and oven. It’s only then that I realize the oven is still on.
I feel like this is a really ridiculous design flaw with a ridiculously easy solution. Instead of just having a light that turns on when the oven is preheating, there should be a light to let you know whenever the oven is on. You could have two lights, one that says it’s on and one that’s clearly labeled to show when the oven is preheating.
Hair straighteners and curling irons usually do this pretty effectively. There’s an orange light that lets you know if the iron is turned on, and the light turns green when it’s hot enough for use. You’d still have to consider things like color blindness to determine what colors would be best to use, but in general, I think two lights would be better than one at effectively communicating the oven’s status.
Hall of Fame: Slack
The happiness assignment we had earlier this year inspired me when I was thinking of what to pick for my Hall of Fame entry. I almost immediately thought of Slack, a team collaboration tool.
From the first time I used the app, I just thought there was something so pleasant about Slack. There are a few points in particular I wanted to point out about the app.
First, creating a team is incredibly fast and easy. You don’t need to input much information; it starts with just typing your email address and clicking “create new team.” Clicking that button takes you to a series of screens that walks you through things like setting up your team name and picking your username. The website offers team name suggestions based on your company name and gives you username ideas as well. At the same time, it explains how you should go about picking your username — for instance, when you’re on the screen to pick a username, it says you should pick a name that your coworkers would recognize. It also gives you requirements for what characters you can and can’t use.
So once you’ve created a team or you get invited to one, the app continues to be really simple to use. Two things that helped me get comfortable with using the app included the tone of the helper text throughout and the feeling that I could make errors that wouldn’t be fatal.
On the left is a list of “channels” within your team that you can join. They’re typically organized by department or topic. For instance, on my hackathon team, we have channels for marketing, design, tech, sponsorship and more. There’s also a #general channel that’s for general messages. My team uses that for meeting announcements and as a discussion space for times when we can’t all meet as a group.
Underneath the channels, you can find a direct messages section, which lets you switch to messaging individual team members. Once again, Slack copy gives users a very clear idea of what different features on the site do. When you click on a teammate to begin a conversation, a big message at the top of the screen lets you know that this is the beginning of your conversation with [username]. It lets you know that the conversation is private.
As I said earlier, the site makes me feel like I can make mistakes and they won’t hurt me or the team. Slack lets you edit text, delete messages and more. It also gives you lots of helpful tips. When you first start using the site, for example, a notification banner at the top of the page asks you if you’d like to turn on desktop notifications. You can say yes or no, and if you say no, it asks you if you’d like to be prompted this again later. First-time users are also introduced to Slackbot, a bot that sends you tips when you’re trying to do things like upload files.
Speaking of uploading files, that’s another huge benefit of using Slack. Slack integrates with almost anything you could need, like Google Docs, your calendar apps and Github. You can link to files like a Google Doc simply by sending your team the URL, but Slackbot is also smart enough to recognize the link as a Google Doc link and offers to import the doc for you.
Slackbot can also be customized by administrators or team members, depending on the organization’s settings. You can get Slackbot to do anything you need, whether it’s check in with users once a week to get a status update or to yell at team members if they’re using too much profanity in their messages.
In general, Slack is just a really pleasant user experience. It makes work almost enjoyable with little easter egg features, like customizable emojis. Anyone on a team can make emojis that you can use to add reactions to messages or notify team members. For example, I’m alerted every time someone says my name, @jenny, or uses the emoji icon of my face. Another neat thing I’ve noticed is that if you add a hex code in a message, it automatically displays a swatch of that color. These little features aren’t necessary to the functionality of the site, but they’re a great UX bonus for more advanced users.
Overall, what makes Slack a worthy candidate for the Hall of Fame is the following:
- It’s easy to join and start using.
- It integrates other tools your team might use, like Github or Google Drive.
- It does what you expect it to do.
- It makes users happy by providing cheery (and helpful) text, as well as fun hidden features