Update 8: Working out which problem to focus on

By Steven Hylands on April 06, 2020

We’ve been on a journey to learn how Lowdown can help teams using Slack. During this we’ve realised there are a wealth of issues with realtime chat we could help with which has made it difficult for us to decide where to place our focus. Today I’d like to talk about what we’ve been doing to help us make this choice.

External research

Speaking to Slack teams has been a great way to learn about Slack problems, but we wanted to go further to increase the chances that we focus on the right thing.

We decided to use some of our grant funding to hire an external user experience agency. The goal was for them to help us research and define the problems worth solving with Lowdown.

The process involved several surveys and interviews with relevant Slack users. Here were a few of their key findings:

  • Many team members feel the need to read/respond to all notifications throughout the day, distracting them from their work.
  • Many team members would like to mute/leave channels but are afraid they will miss something they need to see.
  • Searching retrospectively in Slack is not easy, causing cognitive strain and a loss of productivity.
  • Staying on top of Slack comms creates cognitive strain, there’s a fear of missing out, and team members can end up in a constate state of distraction.
  • There is a lack of guidance on how to use company Slacks resulting in bad habits and loss of productivity.
  • Slack is suitable for discussion that requires immediate action but less so as a repository of information team members need to reference over time.

A lot of this overlapped with our own findings providing useful data to back up future decisions. Overall the project was worthwhile but ultimately it should be the founder(s) who are taking on much of this work so they stand best placed to fully understand the problem.

Testing value propositions

To help work out which problem to focus on, I decided to test different value propositions. To do this, I decided to create landing pages for the various potential use cases of Lowdown. I’d then drive relevant people to them through online advertising. The hope here is to learn which problem is resonating most with people through engagement and completing our desired action of registering an email address. I also used variations of text and images in my online ads to learn what people responded to the most.

To get started, I wrote up three job stories - one for each use case I had in mind. With these stories, I’m attempting to define in a simple statement the motivation for using Lowdown and the outcome required. I’ve included them below:

Job story 1

When my team are becoming distracted by too many Slack posts I want them to feel comfortable closing Slack down or leaving channels so I can help them regain focus and become more productive.

Job story 2

When I need to organise key info previously shared and send it to my team I want to quickly pull it together so I can focus on my own work safe in the knowledge they are well informed and ready to be productive.

Job story 3

When I need to keep my team in the loop about important company info and achievements I want to easily send them a focused update so I can be confident they are informed and happy.

Content creation

I used these as a starting point to write content for my landing pages. For these, I kept things simple with a headline, follow-on statement and 3-4 benefits of using Lowdown. Here’s an example of a couple the benefits:

Example content

With content ready, I used Unbounce - a landing page creation tool to set up a landing page for each. No code required here or to spend much time on design. I used one of their templates, modified it slightly to fit my needs and started populating it with content and images to match benefit statements where necessary. Bar text and images each of these were the same. That helps as then we know no other factor is contributing to sign-ups.

Social ads

Finally I adapted some of my content to fit requirements for Facebook ads and creating visual assets to match.

Example ad

We’re still running our landing page tests. I’ll check back in my with results at a later date.

Test, learn, test again

The more data a startup can have before they decide to focus on a problem, the more confident they can be that they’ll develop a solution that fits the user need. In the past, I’ve been guilty of launching products where I was guessing it was a problem others have, and that the solution I conceived of would fix it. One of my main learnings this year is always to be testing and accumulating information. It will give you the understanding and confidence you need to make better decisions.

The next two weeks

We’re still finalising our new onboarding flow and hope to have it launched very soon. We’ve also embarked on a significant piece work of work to give our users much more control of when emails are sent with custom frequencies, date and time.

As our development teams build this out, I’ll take my learnings from the ad test and use them to start creating content for an updated Lowdown marketing site targetted at teams using Slack.


Steven Hylands

Steven is a co-founder and CEO here at Lowdown. He's obsessed with finding signal amongst the noise of real-time chat.