Reduce channel noise with Block Kit

Slack is a new layer of the business technology stack that brings together people, data, and applications — a single place where people can effectively work together, find important information, and access hundreds of thousands of critical applications and services to do their best work. With Workstreams.ai we are looking to further enhance this, by enabling individuals and teams to more efficiently zero in on their priorities, collaborate and get things done.

The channel clutter dilemma

It has always been our goal for Workstreams.ai to be a fully-fledged, active & smart member of your team. In each channel that Workstreams.ai is invited to, it should act as an optimistic enabler, a reliant colleague and an always-present helper.

Striking a fine balance between useful, smart & timely messages and overly-spammy channel-polluting message firehose is a tough challenge. Finding the right format with all available commands & options your team members can do on a task, without taking over valuable channel real estate in the process is an even bigger one.

The focus is key, and we do our utmost to not take it away. We want your team to have the full power of Workstreams.ai available to them at their fingertips, without polluting your channel and making it cumbersome to use because of endless scrolling.

This is where Block Kit comes in.

What is Block Kit?

Block Kit Block Kit is the new design framework for app UI, composed of stackable blocks that enable you to create visually rich, interactive app messages in Slack. The beauty of Block Kit is more flexibility and control over order and appearance of information through app messages in Slack. It also provides a visually cleaner way to incorporate buttons and menus, as well as interactive elements like datepicker or overflow menus.

We found this to be ideal for unraveling our Gordian knot.

So, what did we set out to achieve?

The Workstreams task message — revamped

Trying to be all things to all people is usually a futile exercise. We are an ambitious bunch though, so we set out to get as close to an ideal scenario that would please all types of teams as possible.

Team members and modern SaaS users usually fall in the buckets:

  • The “in charge” crowd — Those who want a full overview and total control over the tasks in the channel. With a single look to have the full rundown of the task along with any attachments, due dates, and labels that might be present.
  • The in-betweeners — Those who want certain options to be available to them within the channel, but would ideally be catered best with granular controls in a thread.
  • The minimalists — Those who want their channels as clean as possible with minimalistic messages that go straight to the point and provide info without being obtrusive while being informative.

One of our core USPs is that we are proudly a “Slack 1st” app. The full functionality of our web interface can be accessed and used right in Slack. No cutting corners, no suboptimal experience. Providing the full Workstreams.ai experience right in Slack is very important for us. Switching contexts is cumbersome and takes away the focus. We want our users to act on a task, move it along in the process, add labels, attachments, and due dates without leaving their communication.

Which brings us to our solution on how to cater to the three buckets of users we identified above.

Getting down to the specifics

Using the power of Block Kit, and all the flexibility it provides when crafting messages in Slack, we developed three formats of our Workstreams.ai task message.

  • Full view — The tried and tested version, loved by our users. It caters to the “in charge” crowd, to the users that need full control of every aspect of the task. All the information about the task are unfurled, in plain sight. The title and description are in full view, along with all the controls one might need.
  • Basic view — Get it down to basics. Block Kit enabled us to craft a message type that caters to those users who are in between. Those are the users who like some useful information and controls right at their fingertips without dealing with the clutter in the channel. For them, we’ve developed the basic view. It gives you the essential information about the task, everything you’d need to know, along with useful controls for setting due dates, assignees, and labels.
  • Compact view -Things start to get compact! This format of our task message gives you and your teams the essentials only, nothing more nothing less. By being only two lines long, it blends seamlessly into your channel’s communication. It provides the name of the task, it’s status and info on any labels, due dates or attachments present. That’s it! Essential info without causing any distraction or clutter to your communication and work. Magical!

Of course, you and your team have total control over which format is used in your channels. Block Kit enables us to add a handy little button on each task that you can use to toggle all three message formats.

Additionally, you can just ping Workstreams in the channel and tell it what is your preference for any new task being created in the channel. Type @workstreams basic for the basic format, @workstreams compact for the compact one, and @workstreams full for the full format task message.

We are excited about Block Kit and all the possibilities it enables. We want to make the experience of using Workstreams.ai in Slack as enjoyable as possible and using the latest tools from Slack enables us to do just that.

Onwards and upwards!

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