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Archive: Remote Daily
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Hey everyone 👋

I'm sure many of you are familiar with Superhuman, the fastest email experience in the world. Over the course of the last year, we've seen many startups build product experiences around the use of the command key, and have seen greater adoption of the use of keyboard shortcuts. We've done this at Tomo as well, where we're changing the way we interact with our work apps.

Would love to hear some of your thoughts on how Superhuman has led this new wave of design thinking, and where you all think this converges with other trends.


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    Love this thread.

    Superhuman led the change for a few things, in my opinion:

    1. Opinionated software - Doing things in a certain way only is most efficient e.g. use of keyboard, targeting inbox zero. Other cult products like Roam do the same.

    2. Focus only on the core problem & strip the rest - Superhuman's biggest enemy is Gmail, which has a very cluttered interface. They focused only on getting one thing right - helping you clear up emails in the fastest way.

    3. Back to command line & keyboard shortcuts - Most popular products do this now (e.g. Slack) and it's become evident that to be efficient, you have to interact with your app using commands. Amazing to see Tomo does it as well 👏, I know Kitemaker by @kevinsimons-476 & @sigurdseteklev does the same. Would love to hear their thoughts on this too.

    4. User onboarding - Their conceirge onboarding became so famous that apps started getting pitched as 'Superhuman (onboarding) for X'. They were also probably the first to show that personalised onboarding can be done at scale.

    5. Game design - Rahul talks about building Superhuman as a game vs. business software. I feel this aspect is not talked about a lot, but is also a crucial factor in achieveing user delight for Superhuman.

    Moving forward, we will see more of opinionated software that solve problems for a niche do really well. Possibly become a cult like Superhuman or Roam. And in terms of immediate change, I feel command line & keyboard shortcuts will become a necessity 😎

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      I agree with Hrishikesh completely.

      Points 4 and 5 are very interesting. When I read about it, it made me think about how we approach those things in our company.

      There is a widespread belief in the tech industry that personalized onboarding is something bad (coming from Silicon Valley). Big part of the investors get concerned when we tell them that we work with the customers somewhat considerably (Customer Success function).

      I hope Superhuman impact this false belief.

      The guys/girls at Superhuman have my admiration for thinking independently on how to do things, figuring out a superior way for their case and standing firm behind it.

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        Absolutely Boris, we also faced a lot of heat initially when we used to talk about high number of manual touchpoints in the onboarding process. The skepticism was how do you scale it. Superhuman's actually done this really well.

        On point 5 i.e. game design, I like the concept in theory but it requires huge effort and may not apply to every product. Even at Remote Clan, we are always thinking of ways to add in gamification features which the Superhuman team is strongly against.

        Their rationale is gamification just motivates users to fight for rewards but doesn't really push them to have fun while using the product & then rave about it. This has turned out really well for Superhuman. But I believe an early-stage product or community could use that extra push from gamification rather than just banking on an amazing product/design & users raving about it.

        I am curious to know if and how you apply point 5 (game design principles) at RemoteMore. Would love to hear about it!

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          About gamification -

          I think of it as one way of adding delightfulness into the product. But there are also other ways. For example, if the page loads very fast, that in itself is also delightful. Another example is this gif from Mailchimp when the user clicks to send the campaign, and the campaign is sent.

          I think that as a whole, delightfulness and visuals help, especially in a crowded industry (incl. B2B). But in my opinion, there are more important objectives to hit first - if those are considerably threatened (mostly due to lack of resources), then pretty much ignore the delightfulness part.

          @hrishikesh

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            But in my opinion, there are more important objectives to hit first - if those are considerably threatened (mostly due to lack of resources), then pretty much ignore the delightfulness part.

            Haha, absolutely true words. Most times, you don't have the luxury of crafting delightful experiences from the word go due to constraints on budget, time, talent etc.

            For example, if the page loads very fast, that in itself is also delightful. Another example is this gif from Mailchimp when the user clicks to send the campaign, and the campaign is sent.

            Makes sense. The parallel from Superhuman is the background you see when you hit Inbox Zero. I have seen people say that they feel a sense of accomplishment & calmness when they hit inbox zero. It's an achievable goal set in the product which users aim for, very similar to the experience you have in games.

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              Cool, thank you for sharing the screenshot!

              It's a good example/lesson of what can be done in this area. 🙂

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        Yeah, we have kind of gone into this path with Kitemaker. For us, the user onboarding we have put a little less emphasis on personal onboarding since we are making a collaboration tool we want the threshold of getting started as simple as possible. We do some personal onboarding, but I think you need quite good WOM traction to pull it off on the scale that Superhuman has done.

        Another point of hotkeys and opinionated software that sometimes gets overlooked is that having people invest in learning your tool (like Superhuman almost forces you to during onboarding) and that making them faster/more efficient is an effective way to reduce churn. Basically, when teams have spent the time learning the hotkeys, sees they work faster (some teams tell us that they have made a bit of sport in trying to find and learn new hotkeys in Kitemaker), they don't want to start using a less efficient tool, and they don't want to go through a similar investment again.

        The "Superhuman interface" model is not easy to pull off, and we have worked through many challenges both on design and the tech, and we're not near the goal yet :)

        But both of us are happy to share our experience :)

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          Great & very relevant points Sigurd.

          people invest in learning your tool (like Superhuman almost forces you to during onboarding) and that making them faster/more efficient is an effective way to reduce churn.

          Absolutely. It's a huge ask from the user. Even for Superhuman, initially, you are supposed to have the onboarding call and also then get used to all the hotkeys. So it's surely tough to achieve, however as you said, once users are onboard fully and see efficiency gain, there's no turning back.

          some teams tell us that they have made a bit of sport in trying to find and learn new hotkeys in Kitemaker

          This is an amazing achievement 👏We would love to know more on how you have gone about building Kitemaker. Would be lovely if you could share your posts or experience on the community.

          To make it even easier, we recently added canonical URLs & do-follow links so you can repurpose existing/new content. I saw some amazing posts on your blog on Hashnode. Would love if you share relevant posts here too :)

          Let me know if you need any help!

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        At Kitemaker we're massive fans of Superhuman. We think they've set the bar in terms of software performance and efficiency. We've made it possible to operate Kitemaker entirely with the keyboard...occassionally leading to bugs since we ourselves use the mouse so rarely 😀

        My suspicion is that over the next few years we'll come to expect some of the features that Superhuman offers from any B2B SaaS products we use:

        * Hotkeys

        * Command palette (command menu, command line, whatever you call it)

        * Super responsiveness

        * Working offline

        Products that don't deliver on this will end up feeling sluggish and out of date.

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          Love your predictions Kevin, with you on this!

          I guess you mean speed when you say 'super responsiveness' but Superhuman also set the bar really high with their native iOS app (loosely mobile responsiveness). I read somewhere that they had to really push the limits to get it working as fast & as easy-to-use as the desktop app. Truly mobile-first in that sense and will also become a must-have for B2B SaaS products.