Game Thinking Teardown: 3 killer design lessons from Slack

Why is Slack a breakout success in a crowded field? Dig into what makes Slack’s journey to mastery work and core learning loop work so well for so many.

Slack is a runaway hit — and everyone wants to know why. There are lots of online collaboration tools with similar features. Why did Slack take off when others didn’t?

Lesson 1: Solve a real, high-need problem for a small group of people

Their early practices set the stage for rapid growth

Think about it. when Slack launched, the core product experience had been iterated on for 3 years by internal teams. They solved a real problem for a small group of people with a high need — and their solution turned out to be useful to others.

They didn’t pour customers into a leaky bucket

Simple: they built their product on top of a compelling core experience that people used everyday. When they were ready to grow, they weren’t pouring people into a leaky bucket (like so many startups) —instead, they were sending people into a repeatable, pleasurable Learning Loop.

Lesson 2: Create a pleasurable daily habit with skill-building feedback

  1. skill-building feedback that drives learning & competence
  2. progression & investment systems that unfold new challenges
  3. engaged triggers with meaningful, personalized stats & messages

Lesson 3: Give your Customer Journey a coherent through-line

Customization is the through-line

Similar to Minecraft, Slack team invested in their APIs so other developers could extend or “MOD” their service. They also added hooks for everyday Slack users to customize their identity and emotions.

Work better, faster, smarter by tricking out your channel

Game designer, startup coach, author, entrepreneur gamethinking.io

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