Use Slack to gather feedback

Capturing User Feedback from your iOS App in Slack

Development teams thrive when they’re able to receive valuable user feedback on their work. Keeping the lines of communication open allows them to request features, ask questions, or to inform you of bugs or unexpected behaviour. While there are a number of options, with email being the most popular, we opt to use Slack to receive user feedback.

Email is one of the more common ways of handling user feedback in your app, whether it is using the native iOS email client or a service like MailChimp. Sending email natively from a user’s device has the disadvantage of requiring the user to have email set up. It also results in a rather clumsy user flow because the native client must be presented in your app (even if you pre-populate the form’s fields). Using a service like MailChimp improves the experience, but still results in a bunch of emails that get easily buried among all the other emails you receive. If “Inbox Zero” is your goal, these methods aren’t going to help.

Using Slack to receive user feedback has a whole host of benefits, and is very easy to set up. We’ve been posting user feedback to an app-specific Slack channel, which keeps all feedback organized and in one place. The feedback is also visible to all team members that are in the channel, making for more efficient internal communication. From a UX perspective, Slack integrates seamlessly into your app, requiring nothing more from your users other than their feedback message. Including an optional email field for users allows for the possibility of dialogue if they’d like a response.

 

Setting up Slack to receive user feedback is easy and straightforward:

Step 1: Create a Slack channel

First, you need to create an app-specific Slack channel to receive feedback.

Step 2: Create a Slack app

Go to https://api.slack.com/apps to create a new app. After you’ve created the Slack app by giving it a name and choosing the workspace (the workspace needs to match the one for the channel you created above), select "Incoming Webhooks" and turn it on. Next, click "Add New Webhook" to Workspace and then select the channel you created above. Be sure to keep this page open because you will need the webhook URL when you add the necessary code in the app.

Step 3: Code

In the app, we have to make a POST request to the webhook URL with the feedback message in order to post it to the Slack channel. Assuming we have the message from the user (which you can format any way you like), here is the code for sending it to the Slack channel:

 

let feedbackMessage: String = ...
let json = ["text": feedbackMessage]
let bodyData = try! JSONSerialization.data(withJSONObject: json, options: JSONSerialization.WritingOptions.init(rawValue: 0))
let url = URL(string: "[webhook URL]")
var request = URLRequest(url: url!)
request.httpMethod = "POST"
request.addValue("application/json", forHTTPHeaderField: "Content-Type")

let session = URLSession(configuration: URLSessionConfiguration.ephemeral)
let task = session.uploadTask(with: request, from: bodyData) { data, response, error in
if let httpResponse = response as? HTTPURLResponse, httpResponse.statusCode == 200 {
// OK
}
}
task.resume()

Other than updating [webhook URL] with the actual URL from your Slack app’s page, it’s just a simple copy and paste. Now, as users submit feedback it will automatically appear in the Slack channel you set up for managing user feedback.

As we said, user feedback is an incredible tool to help move your apps forward. Slack makes managing that feedback remarkably easy and efficient.


Wave App using Muse Headband

Our New App: Visualizing Your Mind With Wave

Back in November of last year, we shared our progress on a side project that uses the Muse brain sensing headband to visualize brainwaves. We're very happy to announce that phase 1 of Wave is done and available now on the iOS App Store. Muse easily connects to your mobile device through Bluetooth and measures brain signals by recording electrical activity of the brain with several sensors attached to the headband. This method, known as electroencephalography (EEG), has only just begun appearing in consumer gear, with Muse (by InteraXon in Toronto) being the first wearable headband.

One of its primary applications is as a meditation tool, offering a wide variety of benefits. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, increase concentration, and improve the overall mental state. Muse is also widely used in research into brain activity and mindfulness training. Recently, for example, the Muse headset was used in a collaboration to help veterans with PTSD (link).

Our goal for this phase of Wave was to find a unique and pleasing way of representing the data gathered from Muse without being overly abstract, but also not too pedantic. A number of ideas and designs were tossed around (a couple of these can be seen in the previous post), including a version with superimposed sine waves representing each of the five brainwaves over a slowly animating grey noise texture (which was meant to represent the brain's grey matter). However, we found this to be a little too busy and unappealing. Ultimately we ended up with the following design of a stylized data visualizer:

Wave visualization
Visualizing alpha and delta waves in the Wave app.

The circular shape, being the more abstract of the two, is nevertheless able to communicate more information at a discrete point in time. Its size reflects the absolute power of the brainwave being visualized, while the circle's activity represents its relative strength compared to the other brainwaves. Furthermore, the brainwave's variance of its absolute power affects the smoothness of the shapes's edges. The graph, on the other hand, allows you to observe more subtle changes and has the advantage of being able to see amplitude change over a window of time. The app also responds to eye blinks and jaw clenches.

Preceding the visualization of each selected brainwave, a short snippet of information on that wave type is presented in order to contextualize the visualization. A more thorough understanding of the science behind brainwaves can be seen here, as well as in numerous other resources on the web.

Information snippet on alpha waves
Information on the alpha brainwave in the Wave app.

As mentioned at the start, this is only phase 1 of Wave, so it doesn't end here! The applications of measuring brainwaves, and the benefits of meditation and mindfulness training continue to intrigue us, so additional features and enhancements to Wave are stirring in our minds. In the meantime, if you happen to have a Muse headset, give the app a try, and we would love to hear your feedback (which you can send to us right from within the app).

Download Wave from the App Store