Slack, the chat app competing with Microsoft, is launching 'Slack 101,' an online classroom to teach newcomers how to use its app

Slack, the chat app competing with Microsoft, is launching 'Slack 101,' an online classroom to teach newcomers how to use its app

Ali Rayl


Ali Rayl, vice president of customer experience at Slack

  • On Monday, Slack launched "Slack 101," an online resource for new users to teach them how to use Slack.
  • Slack currently has support resources and a tutorial built into its app, but Slack 101 is designed as a free online course to walk users through the basics.
  • Before launching Slack 101, Slack conducted research that found users were struggling with concepts like how to edit a message, or that there's a version of the app for Macs and PCs.
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Slack, the chat app and former unicorn startup that presents the foremost challenge to Microsoft's own Teams, has long credited the ease-of-use of its app for its rapid rise to success.

Still, not everything is intuitive to everybody. That's why Slack today introduces Slack 101, a free online classroom to teach total newbies the basics of its app. It's designed to go beyond the tutorials that already exist in the app, and demonstrate - with instructor-led videos - how to get the most from the app.

"When we show that we're here and we got their backs and we're here to make them successful at work," Ali Rayl, vice president of customer experience at Slack, told Business Insider. "Our customer's work is our work. Ultimately we're here to make them successful."

Rayl says that the ideal audience for Slack 101 are those for whom the concept is totally new. While many people come to Slack having used other, sometimes-similar chat apps, there are those for whom the concept of chatting at work is completely new. Slack 101 is designed to get them comfortable and productive with the app.


"What we're aiming for is a different audience - an audience that's like, I don't quite know what I'm doing. Can you take me through the arc of doing it properly?" Rayl said.

'Aha' moments

On Slack 101, users can also learn how to upload profile pictures, set notifications to fit their needs, use emoji reactions, work in channels - the basic chat rooms that form the core of how Slack works - and other common tasks.

Slack 101_1


An example of a lesson in Slack 101

Before launching Slack 101, Slack conducted research to find out what new users have trouble with.

For example, Rayl says Slack discovered that new users often don't realize they can download Slack as a desktop app. Instead, they end up having to dig through their email to find the URL of the Slack channel they're in, and open it in the browser.


"Channels are the foundational, most important piece of Slack," Rayl said. "What is a channel, how do I work in it, how can I be confident that I'm using this right? This is something people are generally worried about at work."

Something else that surprises users is that they can edit messages within a few minutes after they're sent, Rayl says.

"It's not an affordance you find in other products," Rayl said. "In SMS and Twitter, you can't edit what you sent. It's okay to make a mistake. You can just edit it. The freedom that it affords people makes people so much more comfortable."

From user research, Rayl says the six most common "aha" moments for users are learning to use mentions, reminders, stars, pins, search, and file sharing.

Read more: Slack stock is down 12% after its first earnings as a public company, in which it posted a big loss - including $8 million in credits to customers after outages


With Slack 101, Rayl says she hopes it will help users feel more confident while they're working.

"I want people to just be more successful with our product," Rayl said. "The more people we can touch, the better as long as they succeed. This is my entire job. How can I make the most people the most successful at Slack? If they're successful, then they can be more successful at work."