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6 kickass tools every Slack user will love

(TECH NEWS) What’s the point of using a platform like Slack if you don’t take advantage of all the tools people made to make it way way way better?

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Create your dream toolbox

Slack, a cloud-based instant messaging and collaboration tool seemingly on steroids, has been a favorite of American Genius since its beta launch in 2013. Since then, the team messaging app has generated 3 million users, who produce impressive engagement stats and consistently give raving reviews on the app’s abilities and functionalities. These abilities like the organized channels, direct messaging abilities, file sharing, notifications, and universal search function make Slack a cool business tool straight out of the box.

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What’s cooler than cool?

Cool is cool, but coolest is cooler, which is why we are equally impressed with Slack’s add-on tools that make it one of the coolest collaborative platforms around.

Whether you are already a Slack user and want to beef up your experience or you’re just now hearing of Slack, keep reading to see all the goodies that can leverage productivity among your business team.

1. Growth Report

growth metrics
Growth Report
Business owners everywhere understand an entity can’t be much of anything if there is no growth, which is why Growth Report is such a noteworthy tool.

Weekly growth, retention, user behavior, and acquisition numbers are easily tracked and provide businesses insight to their growth or lack thereof.

The report can be accessed from an email sent from Slack, or from the Slack interface directly.

2. Talkus

talkus app
Talkus
is a fairly new widget that provides Slack operators a glimpse into how users perceive and view their website through live chat.

Visitors have an option to instant message a support member and receive updated status tickets. Through simple commands, a user can then assign visitors to a team, invite expert teammates to the discussion, and distribute a user satisfaction survey.

Full customization options, email feedback, visitor information, text formatting, and the option to embed images make converting visitors, engaging customers, and managing customer support a breeze in Slack.

3. Skylar

Skylar AI
Dubbed “Siri for Slack,” Skylar serves as an automated personal secretary that organizes and consolidates users’ information within Slack. With functions like Asynchronous communication, business integration tools, mail forwarding, Google calendar integration, custom question ability, and Dropbox Integration, who wouldn’t want a Skylar on their team?

She even has the capacity to work outside of the Slack interface for work related and non-work related to-do’s, like ordering food and sending you the bill within Slack. There are different pricing plans for Skylar, but don’t fret on cost; with the amount of time Skylar saves, you’ll make that money back in no time.

4. Hamster Pad

hamster pad
Hamster Pad
is a comprehensive list of which chats are trending at the moment, how many people are in each chat, and how many are actively online. Users can find balance between promoting their product and engaging targets to gain success through a community identified by Hamster Pad as trending.

Another one of our AG writers said this tool’s dedicated communities reminds her of subreddits, but with real-time messaging.

5. Nurtz

nurtz
Basic spell check is neat and all, but Nurtz is way neater in that it lends a human proofreader to any text within Slack. Users can actually send a message to a human without leaving the Slack platform.

When the text is ready, your proofreader will message you back an edited copy.

The first 100 words are completely free and we encourage you to check it out for yourself. If spell check is your “thing”, we guarantee Nurtz is your next best thing.

6. Birdly

birdly
If a personal assistant tool and human proofreader weren’t enough to help Slack users collab like the bosses they truly are, then Birdly might do the job. This Slack add-on offers financial assistance through the managing of expenses. Users first upload expenses from their phone, computer, or tablet (i.e. receipts and invoices).

The data is then analyzed and Birdly creates an Excel spreadsheet in real time, along with a summary that can be separately saved. In case you accidentally send in the wrong expense, a REAL HUMAN BEING will review the message and make sure data is entered correctly. Multiple currencies are also available for International handlings.

Give yourself some Slack

Slack is cool, but slack with add-on’s are cooler. We encourage you to take advantage of Slack for free, along with the aforementioned tools to improve both productivity and communication among your team

#SlackRoundup

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

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Tech News

Microsoft to become 3rd largest gaming company after Blizzard acquisition

(TECHNOLOGY) Microsoft will not be left behind in the Metaverse. The tech giant plans to fully acquire Activision Blizzard by 2023 for $68.7 billion cash.

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The front of the Microsoft office with large Microsoft logo.

Microsoft announced plans to acquire the video game publisher, Activision Blizzard, on January 18, 2022, in an all-cash transaction reported to be valued at $68.7 billion.

The deal gives the tech giant popular game franchises, such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and many more to add to its arsenal. This acquisition sets Microsoft up to be the third-largest gaming company by revenue.  Microsoft expects the deal to close in the 2023 fiscal year (which begins in July of this calendar year) once the customary closing conditions have been completed along with the regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s board of directors have already approved the deal.

This deal comes in hot on the heels of an avalanche of issues surrounding sexual harassment where 37 employees have reportedly left Activision Blizzard according to this article on The Verge. Microsoft states that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, posted both Activision and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently until the deal is complete with Activision Blizzard then all business will be reported to Spencer.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community, and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all.”

Maybe you noticed the not-so-subtle hint regarding the Metaverse by Microsoft’s chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, but it seems everyone is quick to mention to the public and or other companies listening that they are gearing up to bring their A-game to the Metaverse. Whatever that ends up being.

In the meantime, we can predict some of the possible changes to come from this buyout. Microsoft currently has Game Pass, their subscription-based model for Xbox, which recently hit 25 million subscribers. Now’s the time to sign up for the Game Pass subscription before prices go up to match the revamped gaming inventory. Microsoft could potentially lock down new releases and not deliver them on other platforms, i.e., PlayStation, giving them exclusivity and driving subscription sign-ups.

Whatever ends up happening, Microsoft is making big moves to not be left behind in the gaming world or the Metaverse.

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Tech News

Want to save snippets of a Zoom meeting? Listener makes it possible!

(TECHNOLOGY) Listener lets you screenshot or bookmark important sections of live meetings, as well as curate a playlist of snippets, to share or playback.

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Listener for Zoom tool landing page on laptop.

We live in a very computer-mediated world where the bulk of communication is done virtually. Many of us spend a great deal of time – whether for work or pleasure – on video calls connecting with people that we’re unable to meet with in person.

Zoom became the unofficial mascot for the pandemic and has shown no signs of going anywhere. So naturally, people are looking for ways to put this to even more of an advantage – like by creating messaging extensions to utilize in lieu of live meetings.

Now the folks behind Listener are getting in on the action by creating Listener for Zoom.

The new tool allows users to bookmark important moments of Zoom calls in real-time and easily turn long recordings into bite-sized video clips.

As founder Nishith Shah puts it, “Zoom meetings just got more productive!”

Listener allows users to do a myriad of things, including live bookmarking to create short video clips; ability to transcribe your entire meeting; edit video clips by using transcripts instead of struggling with video editing tools; share video highlights with your team; create playlists from video highlights across different Zoom meetings to tell powerful stories; use projects to organize your meetings and playlists.

Founders say that Listener is designed for pretty much anyone who uses Zoom. In early testing, the founders found that it is especially helpful for product managers and UX researchers who do customer interviews.

They also reported that early-stage founders have been using Listener to add powerful customer videos to their investor pitch decks. It is also helpful for recruiters and hiring managers who search transcripts across hundreds of hiring interviews to remember who said what and to pass on important clips to other people in the interview process.

The tool is also beneficial for teams and hiring, as customer success and sales teams create a knowledge base with Listener to train and onboard new employees. They also use it to pass on customer feedback to the product teams.

This could also be great for clipping video elements that are appropriate for social media use.

On January 11, 2022, Listener was awarded #3 Product of the Day on Product Hunt.

Listener for Zoom is free while in Beta. The tool works only with licensed (paid) Zoom accounts.

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Opinion Editorials

Job listings are popping up left and right, so what exactly *is* UX writing?

(EDITORIAL) While UX writing is not technically new, it is seemingly becoming more and more prevalent. The job titles are everywhere, so what is it?

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UX writing

The work of a UX writer is something you come across every day. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints these writers work on are interface copy, emails, and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find these writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must-have. Excellent communication skills are a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post. But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater user experience design team. In larger companies, some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of the writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User-centric design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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