What did I learn while building a product for offices watching the world cup?

Actual screenshot of the app

Are you going to follow the 2018 World Cup? Other people in your office are also following it? If the answer is yes and you care about building digital products then this post might be for you. I built an app that starts conversations by making everybody compete to see who is the better sports guesser. 
 As a Product Manager, I decided to launch a “Guess the winner” as a way to practice my product management skills. In every business, it is important to promote a good work environment and one way to do it is to promote office bonding activities. It is easier to work when you do it with people you know and like. I wanted to make an app that promoted those bonding activities. Since sports conversations are a usual topic for office chats I decided to make an app about that.

How the app works

It is an app for Slack since it is one of the most used ways of office communications right now. After you install the app, each day you will receive the list of games to guess the result. Each person can guess who is going to win. At the end of the match, the app publishes who got it right. It is a very simple interaction right now. 
My hypothesis for this Slack app is:

Competing in who is going to be the best guesser is going to generate ejoyable conversations about the matches.

This is based on my own experience but as any product manager would tell you, it is necessary to research and test your hypothesis.

An MVP

There is a lot of information about MVPs and if they are useful or not. As a PM you have to learn about your users. You can use different techniques to learn about your users and each one is going to give you different information.
Some pieces of information are very difficult to get unless you put a product in front of your users and watch how they react.
The other aspect to consider when you want to learn about your customers is cost. It doesn’t matter if you know a method you can use if you can’t afford it. Money and time usually determine the limits of your research. In this case, I am doing this project by myself and I got the idea to do this app only two and a half weeks before the World Cup. Because of that, I decided to build the app and try to learn from real users.
Important to notice that an MVP doesn’t mean half-baked functionality, the sacrifice must be in the number of features and not in the quality.

A good product manager has to know when to use each of the tools in his/her toolbox.

Technical details

For the same reasons exposed earlier(being a one man show) I decided to build the app on a platform that required low operations and maintenance costs but able to scale if needed. I decided to use Google Firebase because it is easy to get started with and scales easily. Performance and reliability are always concerns so I had to choose an option that didn’t require so much work to operate.

Interruptions & timezones

A 6 PM match in Moscow is 8AM in Los Angeles and midnight in Tokyo. (WorltimeBuddy totally recommended)

One of the interesting challenges of launching the app with the world cup is the global scale. 32 countries play in the world cup and a lot of people from other countries also watch the tv broadcast. That means that at the time of the matches there are people watching it probably in every timezone in the world. With Slack being a communications tool for work, it is mostly used during work hours and for some users, matches will not be played during that time. I decided to ask the users at the moment they install the app where are most of the team located and made them choose between 3 options: America, Europe/Africa, Asia/Australia. For some people in America matches start at 06:00 AM so it is better to ask people to guess from the previous afternoon, for people in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia matches are in the evening or night so you can ask them in the morning of the same day. 
Sending messages at the right moment is essential to promote interactions

Select a timezone and get better messages.

Keeping users in the loop

The new versions of iOS and Android are including ways to control notifications because it got out of hand. If everything is worth notification users stop paying attention to them. I tried to be very conscious about sending messages. One message for all the matches for a day and one message when each of the matches finishes publishing the winners. That means 5 machine-generated messages a day on average, the rest of the messages are meant to be human messages. The goal of the app is that people interact with each other and not with the app. When it asks who is going to win a match or when it publishes who guessed correctly the idea is to spark a conversation between humans in that channel.

I did this because I wanted to practice my product management skills but also to learn about Slack apps to apply for a job there. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. In the end, it was an interesting challenge and I learned a lot from it.

If you want to support this share the app link in your social networks and install it in your Slack. You are going to have fun.

“Guess the winner” app

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