Note: Many teams bundle UX and/or visual design into agile development — for us, we’ve found this tend to work best for simpler applications and small feature enhancements. When creating enterprise digital products, we’ve found it more effective and efficient to keep them mildly separated, though teams are often working in parallel at a point.
Putting yourself in the mind of someone who is coming to Slack for the first time — especially a real someone, who is being made to try this thing by their boss, who is already a bit hangry because they didn’t have time for breakfast, and who is anxious about finishing off a project before they take off for the long weekend — putting yourself in their mind means looking at Slack the way you look at some random piece of software in which you have no investment and no special interest. Look at it hard, and find the things that do not work. Be harsh, in the interest of being excellent.
The reason for saying we need to do ‘an exceptional, near-perfect job of execution’ is this: When you want something really bad, you will put up with a lot of flaws. But if you do not yet know you want something, your tolerance will be much lower. That’s why it is especially important for us to build a beautiful, elegant and considerate piece of software. Every bit of grace, refinement, and thoughtfulness on our part will pull people along. Every petty irritation will stop them and give the impression that it is not worth it.
My favorite recent example is Lululemon: when they started, there was not a large market for yoga-specific athletic wear and accessories. They sold yoga like crazy: helping people find yoga studios near their homes, hosting free classes, sponsorships and scholarships, local ambassadors and training, etc. And as a result, they sold just under $1.4 billion worth of yoga-specific athletic wear and accessories in their most recent fiscal year.