What is Open Agora for Slack?
Open Agora is a Slack poll application. The first version was built in 2015! Back then, Slack was a startup’s tool, and you could build so-called “slash commands” these commands enabled to expend the capabilities of Slack in any way imaginable. At that time we were not a company and we wanted to help people to collaborate better and make better collective decisions. Integrating a poll application within Slack seemed the right thing to do.
One of the most interesting feature of our application was the possibility to rank choices. It means that if you created a poll to select the next feature of your product, each of your team members could simply sort the choices according to his opinion, then, the result will be a list of features ranked by decreasing Consensus order (the best consensus on top, the worth at the bottom).
At the moment our application is doing well, and we are reaching 200 000 users. However our ergonomics are not flawless: since all the interactions take place within Slack conversations, we use messages with buttons and a lot of interactions are needed to cast a vote.
Open Agora Poll for Slack Rework
Slack’s Block Kit
A few month ago, Slack published a great improvement for applications developers: Block Kit. It enables much more flexibility in messages creation for application. In particular several new buttons and selectors are available to us.
Once we learned about Block Kit, we thought it would be a good time for an important rework. In fact, our product was efficient, but it was simply a slightly improved “slash-command”. Also, the ergonomics was not conformant with the most up-to-date Slack applications.
So, we decided to improve:
- the workflow, in particular poll creation;
- poll voting;
- application onboarding (the way our new users start using our product).
We also added new features (like image polls), and finally, we adopted a freemium pricing model.
Simpler, better poll directly in Slack
New poll creation and publication
You may, now create a poll in Slack simply by hitting a button, and filling in a simple form. After these first steps, you access an “administration message” which lets you select various options for your poll: anonymous voting, ranked voting. During this step you may also edit your poll title or the choices; you may also add or remove choices. Once you poll is ready you simply hit “publish” and your poll is directly visible within your Slack channel.
New answer, simpler ranking
One of the difficulties of Open Agora poll for Slack is that ranking choices directly within a channel is quite difficult, and our previous system made intensive use of buttons… it worked, but it was painful.
Using Block Kit we have devised a complete new system which makes it very easy to cast a ranked vote. You also have a private message which lets you have a precise view of what are your preferences.
We kept important features of our product like anonymous polling. You may check our previous article on this matter.
A Single Message for Voting and for the Result
Channel members who are supposed to take part to the poll see a single message, with every details at hand:
- Choices (and vote buttons);
- The up-to-date result (with automatic refresh after each vote);
- A simple “add choice” button for poll improvement.
Brand new features
The most important new feature is image polls: now, you may create polls with images. This was requested by many users, and we hope you will enjoy it.
We have also enabled the possibility to have several polls in a single channel! This was also requested by many users.
Finally, now that our application has a bot, you may engage conversation with it, mentioning @Open Agora Polls help ». This command post an help message. If necessary, you can also type the « /agora support » command or to mention « @Open Agora Polls support » or to enter « support » in the channel’s bot to transforme the bot in a direct channel with our teams! We commit ourselves to reply within 12 business-hours for Premium subscription users (even if we generally reply faster!). Futher information on the Support page.
Until now, Open Agora was provided freely, no string attached. However, as a company we have costs: we need to pay people working for us, and servers. Providing people a voting service we could have monetized our users data… well, this is something we really didn’t want to do.
Cooperation Needs Trust
Our main goal is to help people cooperate, and cooperation is built on trust. Actually, trust is at the center of what we want to help our customers to develop. With that in mind it seemed obvious that we wanted to protect our customers’ data like our own, and we wanted to ensure that these data will not be used apart for providing the service we offer: performing polls.
Thus, we decided to build a “freemium” model: a part of our product will be freely available to any Slack user, and for more advanced features, or more intensive use, a small monthly fee will be required.
In any case, you may test our premium subscriptions for free during one month. And we also have a special benefit for all our previous user (which will be activated automatically as soon as you update or re-install our application). You may have a look at our pricing to have a comprehensive view of the benefits of subscribing.
We have put a lot of energy into this new version to make the best Slack poll application. Block kit has enabled a lot of improvements, and we still have plenty of new features on our road-map. We are eager to keep on improving Open Agora for Slack.
We hope you like it as much as we do, and we’ll be happy to hear from you if you have comments, suggestions or requests… in the meantime, have nice polls!