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Intercom App Store

Marketplace for Intercom App discovery
OVERVIEW

The 4th generation of Intercom Messenger introduced a new concept: Messenger Apps - 3rd party developers built custom flows that integrate with their own services to be used inside the Messenger. This allows Intercom customers to use partnered services when communicating with their users.


A key component of this initiative is the idea of an App Store - a marketplace for developers to list their apps, and for Intercom customers to discover and manage installed apps. I worked with the Developer Platform team to execute this idea.

TEAM

Jean-Pierre Pequito - Product manager
Elizabeth McGuane - Content Strategist lead
Kostya Gorskiy - Design manager

TIMELINE

Jan 2018 - March 2018

LINK

Intercom App store

Challenges

Prior to this project, Intercom already had an“Integrations”hub for installing integrations with the Intercom admin app. However, it focused on the utility of managing integrations but not for the discovery experience.

  • It displays a raw list of many integrations sorted by popularity, which makes it hard for users to navigate and find apps that matches their needs.
  • Users had no ability to search for a particular app in this long list apart from using the browser’s search function.
  • It only allowed a small text description to describe the purpose of the integration.

With these problems in mind, I set the following goals when I took the opportunity to revamp this product:

  1. Provide a better experience for users to browse, discover and decide which Apps to get.
  2. Enable 3rd party developers to tell a better story about their Apps
  3. Help users distinguish between Messenger Apps and regular Integrations

Desk research

The idea of an app store is not new in B2B products. As a first step I decided to study the most successful B2B app store / marketplace such as Slack, Zendesk, Github, Altassian, and Trello. I wanted to find out what are the common components and patterns these marketplaces offer.

FINDINGS

  • These marketplaces offer components such as search, highlight of apps, filters by categories, reviews, app description with rich media, installation flows.
  • Some of them rely heavily on illustrations to make them feel more visually appealing and exciting.

Aside from looking at B2B marketplaces, I decided to take inspirations from consumer products such as iOS App store, Airbnb, ProductHunt and Skillshare.

Some of them offer pretty unique experiences such as iOS App store's editorial content to introduce apps, and Product hunt's "upcoming" section to gather early market interest. This exercise helped me to think about how some of these experiences could be applied to the Intercom App Store.

Targeted users

There are two types of users we are designing for:

  • Sales and CS managers in startup companies who are the deciders on what tools their companies should use.
  • Developers within the company who can help with the technical installations of Apps and integrations.

With these two user groups in mind, we want to optimize the experience for the managers to discover new Apps and make decisions on which Apps to get; Ensure it is easy for the managers to share the App details with their developers; And to minimize the amount of barriers for the developers to install Apps.

Design workshop

To get the team's early involvement in the design of the product, I facilitated a design workshop with members from PM, Content, Marketing, Engineering to generate ideas for long term product directions.


In the workshop, I went through the problems and goals of the project, reminder of who we are designing for, findings from desk research, followed by a brainstorming session with a few “how-might-we” questions to prompt the team to think about what the ideal experience should be.

Long term visions

Compiling the ideas generated with the team, I’ve created the a set of wireframes to capture and illustrate the main long term visions.

I then shared these vision concepts to the leadership team to get their feedback and alignments. Overall, everyone reacted positively and are excited by these directions.

Interaction design

I worked with the PM and Engineer lead to scope the first solution.  The agreed scope focuses on:

  • A categorised App directory accessible by logged-in users
  • Ability to search for apps
  • App description view that support rich text and images
  • App installation flow
  • Settings view for installed Apps


Starting from whiteboard sketches, I collaborated with the product team to work through the flows and architecture of the product in more details. In parallel, I’ve also collaborated with our Content designer to go through the list of apps and defined the categories that group them in a logical way.

Sketching the experience of the App installation flow

Progressively I discovered the different levels of product behaviour and design details to be figured out, explored multiple solutions, and made design decisions based on the pros and cons of each solution.


For example:

  • Should the App description view lives within the App store or a modal that can be triggered elsewhere in the Intercom product?
  • How much rich content and what layout options should it support in the App description?
  • How much metadata should it show in the App listings? How simple or rich the visual design should be?
  • How visually prominent should the search bar be?
  • How might we visually indicate if an app is Messenger compatible?


Design proposal

After working through these levels of design details and multiple iterations, I’ve proposed the following design that demonstrates the experience of a user navigating through the App Store, discovering Apps, and installing an App.

This design achieves the project goals by:

  1. Clearly categorise the Apps so that users can easily navigate and browse between large volume of apps.
  2. Supporting rich content media in the App description view so that users can have a better at-a-glance view to understand what the App is about.
  3. Providing a new “Messenger apps” category that differentiate between regular integration, and helps users discover new Apps that are specifically to enhance their messenger experience.

Impact

The completion of this App Store project enabled the new Messenger launch on time in April 2018. Since the main focus of launch was on the Messenger, the App Store was considered as a soft-launch that was only visible by logged-in users.

The public version of the Intercom App Store was launched in July 2018 and is now hosting over 100 Apps.


For this project, I’m particularly proud of the long term visions that I’ve delivered in additional to executing a good first solution. I believe the long term directions show promising possibility of where the App Store could go, and may help inform the further product roadmap for the team.