A Slack App
Grow facilitates self-awareness and personal growth through the wisdom of your team.
Grow is a Slack plugin that facilitates personal growth through the wisdom of your team with continuous and quality feedback.
Grow is officially launched on Slack and has been installed by 400+ teams, totaling 100k+ people across 60+ countries since then.
Grow was founded by a team of MBA students at Cornell Tech for Startup Studio and won the 100k Startup Award in June 2019.
Co-Founder, Product Manager
Parsons School of Design
I joined the Grow team after the first prototype was released. My responsibilities included conducting a thorough UX audit on the initial prototype, redesigning the branding and onboarding experience, and designing a more friendly user experience within the constraint of a Slack plugin.
UX Audit: Prototype #1
Most users are likely to go through onboarding from the introduction page on Slack Marketplace at this stage. Compared to the onboarding pages of other products such as Giphy's, Grow's introduction paragraph is wordy and does not highlight important information such as command lines.
Potential users felt it was a little confusing what is Grow's core function and the lengthy description could make them lose interest.
The introduction page on Slack Marketplace also asks Grow to upload feature images. The original Grow feature images were simply screenshots of four major screens of Grow. The shortcomings of these images were that they are not visually appealing and they are not self-explainery enough.
Other popular Slack apps, such as Dropbox, introduce screenshots that highlight specific functions with colorful backgrounds to draw attention.
Giving and Requesting feedback are the most used functions of Grow, the current UI places two drop-down menus right next to each other, the lack of separation and hierarchy confuses users whether to select from both menus. Although the prompt suggests users to select from one menu, there is a disconnection between the prompt and the user interface.
In this prototype, the "skill" dropdown menu offers over 20 options, some options are ambiguous and repetitive; the "rating" drop-down menu displays five tiny emojis, which are hard to see and confusing. (The size of the emojis are design constrains within Slack)
Overall, the first prototype does not have a complete loop in all functions yet. "Top Skills" is not mentioned anywhere else, users feel confused when they received the prompt from Grow. It does not specify where do "top skills" come into play in the entire flow of Grow.
When a user receives feedback, they receive a message from Grow. To close the loop, this prototype provides two action buttons: "Thanks" and "Let's chat about this". However, both buttons do not return any response when clicked. Users are confused about what message does the other user received when they click on "Thanks!". When they click on "Let's chat about this", Grow does not redirect them to the private message channel or send a message to the feedback giver on the receiver's behalf. (Technical constraints within Slack)
Questions to answer:
Is there a real problem?
Who has the problem?
The Grow team would love to learn more about people's experiences in feedback and having difficult conversations.
Why a Slack App?
Slack Active Users
From a prototype perspective:
Slack provides a well-supported developer toolkit and well-documented tutorials for building a Slack app.
It is easier to build a working prototype with Slack API than building a web prototype or application from scratch.
It is easy to launch and test prototype nudges on Slack.
Slack hits 10 million daily users in January 2019.
Slack already has a large pool of active users who are Grow's target users.
It is easier to conduct genuine user testings in Slack
From a product design perspective:
Grow can be easily installed into Slack, users would not need to download another application.
Grow will be automatically added to the entire channel once any user in the channel install it.
Grow could reach a large number of beta users very quickly.
The Grow team sees the advantages of plug-ins on well-established platforms.
Slack has a friendly environment to third-party plug-ins.
It is easier to conduct genuine user testings in Slack.
CareerLark offers a traditional concise feedback form that includes only feedback subject and content
CareerLark allows users to request feedbacks from multiple users
CareerLark respons to every user interaction with clear prompts
CareerLark allows users to download feedback, enabling users to better track and analyze feedbacks received
CareerLark sends monthly reminders to stimulate user activity
The feedback form is too simple and generic, it does not encourage users to provide genuine and useful feedback
CareerLark's prompts are effective, the prompts sounds like personal conversations
It might be helpful if users can directly track feedbacks in Slack
It's helpful to ask users to comment on a specific question, however, the current flow separates this step from the feedback form
OfficeVibe is primarily designed for teams in working environments
OfficeVibe's distinct feature is sending reminders and automated surveys
OfficeVibe provides team reports, empowered by excellent data visualization
OfficeVibe allows anonymous feedbacks
Data Visualization has become increasingly important for teams
Weekly reminders are effective
Anonymous feedback might not be helpful in building team trust
It is important to consider how a team might utilize a feedback tool
We asked the interviewees what would they usually do when they seek feedback and looked for commonalities in their behavior and experience.
User flow: Seek Feedback
Feels happy about a presentation in class today
As a reflective person, he would like to seek feedback from his team
He sends out messages or talks to his team in person for feedback
He receives positive feedbacks
We asked the interviewees to try out Grow for a few days and asked what did they feel about Grow. What was good and what was not working? Did they think the feedback he received was effective? What feature would they wish to be added?
Quotes from the interview:
I didn't realize how the app worked, like how does "Grow even work on slack"
Wow, I got a random message at 11 pm about my conduct/behavior for the last 2 days. And it made me feel shitty, and worse, this person is right. (this feeling lasted for like 5 seconds so don't worry lol)
Fuck, how do I sort of thank this person? Let me thank him. Did the message get back to him? Did he see it?
Fuck, how do I let him know that I've changed? I don't want him to think I am a bad person. Like I really do want to grow.
Quotes from the interview:
"no idea what slack apps are or how to install them"
"took more than 5 min for the tutorial"
wanted more characters in "why" for rating, wanted "initial reaction" instead of "rating"
wanted to aggregate stats by strength and weaknesses instead of skills
took a while to find the 'stats' command. got frustrated after trying 3 times with verbose sentences like "Hello grow, how might I access my aggregated statistics and feedback"?
wants "deadlines" or "due dates"
give self-feedback to track wins and losses in a more formal way
way to reflect and take notes on feedback received
keep the reflection notes tied to the feedback received
Design Sprints & Nudges
Our team went through two design sprints to push nudges to the original prototype.
We brainstormed on new features, better user flow, and business strategy etc.
We brainstormed on new features and directions based on the core value of Grow, which is making giving and receiving constructive feedback easier. We divided the ideas into categories and subtracted 3 major problems that we would like to tackle first, combined with our findings in the UX audit and user interviews.
List of Ideas
#1 Feedback "Sh*t Sandwich"
Something positive to warm up discussion
The feedback you actually want to give
Something else positive to soften the real feedback
Instead of traditional/formal feedback form, Grow's feedback form guides users to follow the "Sh*t sandwich" format with three text boxes:
What was good?
What could be improved?
Gamify giving feedback as a gardening game. The more feedback a user gives, the more prosperous his/hers garden is.
#3 Progress Bar
Users can track how many feedback is given and received in a time period through progress bar, they would received set goals for each period.
Add a calendar that allow users to set reminders or schedule follow up feedback session with others.
We decided to create an on-boarding experience that is as simple as possible for new users by highlighting the command "/grow". New users can start interacting with Grow right away and discover other features of Grow later.
In Prototype #2, we focused on redesigning the feedback form by referring to the "sh*t" sandwich format. We would like to encourage feedback givers to be more concerned about the impact of their feedback while still being honest and straightforward. We also tackled on the problem of providing a redundant skill list to choose from.
Instead of asking the users to give an objective rating and asking them why that rating, we ask for their impression.
Users can now choose to search and select multiple skills to give feedback on instead of going through the whole list.
Grow gives prompts to encourage users be more sensitive about their negative feedback.
Empathy & Quality: Emoji Impression
We carefully picked five emojis that not only represent a wide range of impressions, but also encourages people not to be afraid of giving or receiving negative feedback. Meanwhile, we carefully selected the ones that are appropriate for professional environments.
Empathy & Quality: Feedback Reaction
According to the product interviews, one of the most popular demands was "add reactions" to a feedback received. While in prototype #1 users are expected to take initiatives to move forward with their feedback, in prototype #2 we added a simple emoji reaction feature, as well as "Send A Message" and "schedule Follow Up". The new features are expected to create more interactions between feedback givers and receivers, as well as closing the loop in each reaction cycle.
Empathy & Quality: Feedback Form
Onboarding: Feature Images
We start by introducing new feature images on the Grow App page to create a better onboarding experience. Based on our UX Audit and user research, we selected the five most important screens to show the core features.
We established our short-term success metrics based on Google's HEART Framework. Our primary goal was to increase user activity and stickiness to the product. We saw a steady growth in the number of new installs and number of messages sent in the first few weeks. However, the number of power users who sent more than five messages in two weeks were relatively low. We also analyzed the the quality of messages sent and discovered that a large amount of the messages were low in quality or simply test messages. Hopefully by adding new features and reaching out to more potential users, we will see a major improvement in these metrics.
The business strategy of Grow is to make profits from Grow Pro, which is a paid monthly subscription service. The target users of Grow Pro are power users and teams. The Grow Standard provides the basic and core features of Grow. The Grow Pro provides more flexibility and customization options for teams to further utilize Grow for their specific needs. Currently not all Grow Pro features are available but the team is working on it.