The Department of Product


Thursday, 10 August, 2023

Slack’s major redesign and Square’s blockbuster earnings. Plus: a beautiful tool for knowledge, APIs explained and RIP Cortana


Hi product people 👋,

Slack is introducing a major redesign which sees the product undergo one of the most radical overhauls in its history. Chief product officer Noah Weiss explained that the new interface is designed to help workers feel a little less anxious about missing messages – and is designed to reflect the remote-first world many tech workers now live in. Key changes include: shifting channels from left to right, a “later” function which allows users to set up reminders to respond at a later time and a new “create” button to write messages, huddles, canvases or new channels. Search is also getting an update which means search will now work across multiple channels.

And while we’re looking forward to the rollout of the new Slack, if you’re working on a redesign of your own, this handy collection of Figma templates allows you to grab a copy of UI patterns from popular products including DuoLingo, YouTube and Airbnb and edit them right inside Figma.

Other products on our radar this week include this beautiful new desktop app that is designed to help you make sense of research, learning and projects visually. It’s a blend of Miro and Notion and despite many productivity products now adopting a browser-first approach, there’s still something special about downloading a native app onto your desktop.

Meanwhile, as earnings season continued, Square and CashApp’s payment company Block reported its latest earnings. Block impressed investors with a revised forecast of profits for the year of $1.5 billion, up from its previous guidance of $1.36 billion. The boost was fueled by Block’s two core products: CashApp and Square. Both products generated earnings far above estimates with monthly transacting active customers up to 54 million.

Speaking of Square, this year’s final Web Technologies program will be led by the Lead PM at Square. If you’re looking to become more technical, seats for the live 4 week Web Technologies Program starting September 30th are now available and you can sign up to join us or learn more here.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Essential reads for product teams

Latest from the Department of Product Substack

🧠Knowledge Series 5: APIs explained 

  1. What are APIs and why should you care?

  2. Top terminology – a deep dive into the 10 most important API terms to know

  3. Tools, resources, videos and further reading

You can use this as a reference guide for the next time you’re integrating with an API, reading API documentation or thinking about building your own APIs.

(Department of Product)

UX – How to design accordions on desktop

Swimming through a sea of content and trying to find what we are looking for can feel tiresome, particularly when faced with lengthy, information-rich web pages. An accordion is a design pattern that can help mitigate the challenge. (NN Group)

Tools you can use

  • Emoji Concepts – replace your words with emojis for key search terms

  • BeMindful – a free extension for your browser

  • Wall of Reviews – testimonials for marketing landing pages made simple

  • Walling – the new way to organise your work and present ideas

Case studies – How Instagram engineering scaled their recommendations system

To build a large-scale system capable of recommending the most relevant content to people in real time out of billions of available options, we’ve leveraged machine learning (ML) to introduce task specific domain-specific language (DSL) and a multi-stage approach to ranking. (Meta Engineering)

Strategy – Understanding the top metrics for SaaS companies

This guide covers the metrics you’ll want to keep a close handle on when scaling a Vertical SaaS company. Some of these metrics you’ve probably heard of before, but we’re looking at them today specifically from the perspective of a Vertical SaaS operator. ( 


Skills – How to flex your imagination muscle


New product features, launches and announcements this week

Note taking app Goodnotes has released its biggest update in four years. The new version of the app, Goodnotes 6, now includes handwriting recognition with spell check, a library view and a marketplace for ‘digital stationery’. The digital stationery store allows users to buy third party sticker packs, paper templates and covers. A neat idea.

Threads will start to show everyone your likes. Users will be able to see their own and others’ liked posts. 

Microsoft has officially killed Cortana for Windows. After starting to wind down support in 2021, the standalone Cortana app in Windows 10 and 11 is going to stop working this month. The company’s focus instead will be on the rollout of Copilot.

Tinder is introducing an AI feature that will help users decide which of their photos it thinks potential matches will find most attractive. Its earnings report to shareholders described the ‘AI-enabled photo selection’ feature as something which could solve key pain points.

Coinbase’s own blockchain, Base, has launched this week with thousands of developers already signed up. 

📈 Product data and trends to stay informed

Senior managers are most likely to be using generative AI tools for their work with 82% saying they’ve either tried them or regularly use them. Full McKinsey report on the State of Generative AI August 2023.

WeWork is on the brink of collapse again. In its most recent quarterly report, the company declared a net loss of $397 million on revenues of $844 million. This is despite a year-on-year increase in revenue from $815 million.

Lyft’s revenue per rider decreased almost 5% quarter on quarter but the number of active riders rose to 21,487. CEO David Risher says this is because it has been focused on ending surge pricing.

Roblox says it has hit over 1 million downloads in the first 5 days on Meta Quest. A rare glimmer of positive news for the platform.

Forget NPCs, there’s a new TikTok trend: streaming anti-government protests. TikTok users in Kenya are monetizing anti-government protestors with one user earning 14,800 Kenyan shillings ($103) from 3,700 concurrent views.

Other product news in brief

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy says ‘every single one’ of Amazon’s businesses has “multiple generative AI initiatives going on right now.”

Salesforce is cutting more of its workforce amid a renewed focus on profitability. 

X (formerly Twitter) has started to roll out revenue sharing payouts.

Burnt out by Korean illustrator Bluugu. The collection ponders the question: is everything you’re working for truly worth it?
All yours, all free. Enter your email to receive your briefing.

Product Briefing – November 9, 2023

GPTs for everything, Google Maps gets Immersive, Netflix’s QR codes
Plus: Slack’s CEO exits, How to use conjoint analysis, a new tool for reading API documentation

Product Briefing – November 2, 2023

Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
Plus: Tech salary report, how to manage API integrations, Spotify, Instagram and LinkedIn MAUs in context

Product Briefing – October 26, 2023

Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
Plus: 50+ product analytics tools, Microsoft impresses, Google Meet gets appearance enhancers

Product Briefing – October 19, 2023

Netflix’s $8 billion quarter, Figma in limbo, Synthetic UX research. Plus: YouTube’s major release, a new way to manage your calendar, the Web Technologies Report 2023

Product Briefing – October 5, 2023

Google Docs’ new competitor, AI wars, App industry benchmarks
Plus: Airbnb’s ML patent, DoorDash’s swipe for restaurants and Uber expands to returns

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