What can Discourse learn from Slack?

(Bcguy) #1

It might be helpful if the Discourse team hired/contracted with a good behavioral psychologist to help them implement some of the design ideas and approaches (if possible) that are making SLACK so popular and sticky.

Here is a reasonably good article on SLACK and the psychology behind it:

Discourse as Android Application
What about a Desktop app, to replace Slack and the like?
(Sam Saffron) #2

Interesting article. What problem do you think we need to solve here?

Hiring a team of psychologists to figure out what problem we need solving is not exactly high on our list.

(Bcguy) #3

Just the general issue of how to maximize our user’s positive engagement in our forums.

I worry sometimes (as my stats tell me we’ve sent out over 300,000 emails in the past 8 months) whether we’re taking the right approach with all the emails.

Anyway - just something to get you guys thinking outside the box…

(Sam Saffron) #4

Slacks approach with emails is pretty terrible btw. I keep getting notifications 8 hours after I am mentioned, which is super annoying.

Slack have a “free” product, I am pretty sure we would be able to increase adoption and conversion with a “free” product but we would very likely need to rethink a lot of our business and get VC to bootstrap such an endeavour.

Email is totally under the user’s control, if they want less they can opt for less. We plan to allow site admins to pick defaults for the users.

(Jeff Atwood) #5

The Slack onboarding process (read: you just started a new X, what do you do next?) is much, much slicker than ours – that’s on my list for 2015.

(Sam Saffron) #6

The onboarding process is slick indeed but it does get fairly annoying as well, there is a very delicate balance needed.

(Bcguy) #7

I encourage you to check out the Slack mobile app also.

I think that a good client app for IOS and Android would be a huge boom for Discourse users and forums. Something that we can easily customize for our own forums - so that its a unique app for access to our forums.

A lot of research shows much higher engagement on moble apps vs. mobile web. This is probably the biggest area where we are lacking:

Source of image - and full article:

(Bcguy) #8

Here is some more data, from New Relic:

Adobe, for example, found that both tablet and smartphone users spend much more time on app sessions than they do on mobile websites. How much more?

Tablet users spend four times as long in mobile app sessions as they do on mobile website sessions: 23.9 minutes per average session versus 5.8 minutes per average session

Smartphone users spend almost three times as long in mobile app sessions as they do on mobile website sessions: 12.7 minutes per average session versus 4.5 minutes per average session

Here is the article:


(Kris) #9

With an app you get exactly the opposite. An app would have to be a hub for all your Discourse-forum-based activity, and would have to be somewhat generic, like the standard version of Tapatalk.

Tapatalk does have a “custom” offering — but at that point you’re getting a customized app that has to be distributed by each individual forum - this is a whole additional avenue of maintenance and support (also, do people really want 5 apps for 5 different forums?)… That just seems crazy to me when the alternative is simply visiting an already existing site, which has also been customized.

I think “Why isn’t there a native app?” is a question that can’t be asked without first answering “What benefits would a native app provide?”

And what’s the answer to that question? It would certainly create a lot more overhead and maintenance work… and for benefits? push notifications? some offline capabilities?

(Bcguy) #10

Why couldn’t it just be an app where we link it directly only to our forum,

and the logo gets placed in the icon, just as we replace the discourse logo in the web forums with our own?

(Kris) #11

wouldn’t that basically be functioning as a web browser at that point?

(Bcguy) #12

No - you’re pulling in the messages via the REST API - I’m not talking about a WebView.

(Bcguy) #13

The benefits would be abolutely huge for us.

I get 50% of my users from mobile, and mobile apps get 400% more engagement than mobile web.

So - I’d instantly increase my engagement at my site dramatically - 2X or more.

(Kris) #14

What would differentiate this app from creating a shortcut to the web version? I don’t trust that engagement statistics for all apps wholesale can be applied as “you will definitely get more engagement with an app”.

(Bcguy) #15

I think the data is pretty conclusive - here is some info from Flurry:

The Mobile Browser Is Dead, Long Live The App

Analytics firm Flurry has published data on mobile usage by US consumers during Q1 2014. While users are spending more time on their devices (an average of 2 hours and 42 minutes per day, up four minutes on the same period last year), how they use that time has changed as well. Only 22 minutes per day are spent in the browser, with the balance of time focused on applications.


(Bcguy) #16

Most people don’t create shortcuts to the web version. And, importantly, you could get notifications on your smartphone when you get new messages - thus reducing email spam ( I send 50,000 emails to my users each month - and I personally am getting sick of my own forum’s email spam).

(Kris) #17

Remove gaming, Facebook, YouTube, and Entertainment from that chart and you have “9.5% for other social messaging” versus “14% mobile browser” — that’s what I mean with being careful with these stats. They’re incredibly misleading.

I’m not saying an app might not exist at some point, but these studies don’t show “all mobile apps get 400% more engagement than their mobile web counterparts” — these numbers largely apply to specific app-types, and as a singular number are heavily skewed by games and facebook.

(Tomo Vukasović) #18

I guess these numbers go against my phone usage. I am more mobile web user than app user. I would say that twitter, viber and google chat are only apps that have enabled notifications on my phone. Discourse as app could be waste of precious resources since web version is almost perfect.

(Bcguy) #19

I think this is actually very misleading - you’re omitting the 17% of facebook messaging - so really its 26% social messaging (facebook + other) - vs. 14% for ALL other web site browsing.

I think the messaging on apps. vs. messaging on web sites (including our forums) is actually probably much larger than this communicates. Probably 10:1 or 100:1.

I think Discourse is fundamentally a group messaging app - and if you want to be successful in this market, you need apps. Mobile First is not the mantra in all Venture Capitalists these days just because it seems cool - it works.

Apps Solidify Leadership Six Years into the Mobile Revolution


(Alessio Fattorini) #20

Notifications make the difference, are you using twitter/facebook as app or through your browser?
I use the app and not only because it’s faster but also because I have notifications
Notifications: more engagement, more realtime actions.