Kai Forsyth

Writing

I occasionally write about what work I’ve been doing and share my thoughts on design.

Some of my longer articles are also published on Medium.


Starting small, with quicker impact

At Intercom, we have this idea of starting with a cupcake with how we approach solving problems. This translates to our desire to explore potential solutions broadly, but think pragmatically about how we can test, validate and learn if a solution is successful as quickly as possible.

Recently through my work on our app ecosystem, we had the challenge of exploring how we could get more of our customers to see the value of using our apps in conversations in the Inbox and get them to use apps more regularly as part of their workflow.

We came up with a bunch of potential ideas, some very elaborate, complex and sophisticated, for how we could tackle the problem. But we landed on a somewhat seemingly small solution to show two of the apps that a customer has installed within the Inbox message composer. These new app icons would help customers discover and insert apps that they use on a frequent basis.

Screenshot of the design of pinned apps in the Intercom Inbox

While we could have got attached to and invested in some of our more elaborate ideas, taking the cupcake approach and testing this idea in beta allowed us to quickly validate the idea and see if it had the impact we thought it would. As it turns out, our small cupcake idea ended up having a significant impact on our goal.

You can read more about the change on Intercom’s product changes — it shipped to all customers today!

Shipments on the Intercom developer platform

Today was a big day for the Intercom developer platform — we shipped a bunch of features to improve our developer experience, including API versioning, redesigned webhooks and a new design for our OAuth experience. While you not might not immediately expect there to be significant contributions for design to make on projects that sound largely technical in nature, this in fact could not be further from reality.

For API versioning, we had to explore how to best enable developers to discover that new versions are available, learn about what’s changed, and finally, upgrade to the new version. And through versioning our API, we now have the flexibility to iterate and deliver new features and capabilities on our platform, all without breaking our contract with developers — something that I’m incredibly excited about!

As part of this work, I also took the opportunity to redesign our developer OAuth screen. OAuth is a protocol that allows our customers to give permission to third-party developers to access Intercom data.

Before and after designs for the Intercom developer OAuth screen

The old design (left) and the new design (right).

The new design, while visually improved, also makes it clearer to our customers exactly what data could be accessed by a third-party developer (users can click to learn more for each data category). Also when compared to the old design, we saw that the new design had improved the liklihood of a customer authorising access — a win-win!

Be sure to read all about what we shipped on Intercom’s product changes, and you can also check out the technical blog post discussing how we introduced API versioning.

Defuse Dublin 2018

As Intercom was a sponsor, I was lucky enough to head along to Dublin’s local IxDA chapter annual event, Defuse.

Photograph from Defuse 2018

One of the highlight’s of the night was Rachel Marsden’s case study on Designing for Death and the opportunity that design has to reshape our views on death and engage with mortality in a constructive and enriching way. It was a refreshing talk to hear from the usual bread and butter UX talks at these events, I’d encourage you to give it a watch (it’s under six minutes too!).

You can check out all of the talks from the event on YouTube.

Intercom’s next chapter

Earlier this week, Intercom announced the next generation of our conversational automation technology at our Next Chapter event in San Francisco.

It’s so exciting to see the work the team has been doing on our app store and developer platform shared on-stage. What was shared is just the beginning of what’s possible when our app ecosystem is combined with Intercom’s Messenger and Operator technology.

Matt Hodges demonstrating the power of Intercom’s Messenger in combination with apps on-stage at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco.

What we’ve announced is just a small step towards our vision for apps, and I’m stoked to be part of it. Stay tuned for more to come.