Plotting out interactive flows

The rundown
Read this if:You're still experimenting, prototyping, and exploring.
Read next:Choosing the right APIs

No super hero is complete without an origin story. Similarly, no app is complete (or can even begin) without a clear sense of when, how, and why users will interact with the app.

In our overview of plotting out your app, we mentioned some tips to help you get started. Put yourself in a user’s shoes. Imagine them trying to complete a specific task using your app. How do they make first contact?

Here, we'll break down the task of choosing the entry points for interactions with your app.

We'll talk about the different origins your app might take as inspiration before springing forth into action-packed, technicolor communication. Also, we'll give a brief overview of the moves and grooves available to your app once a flow has been kicked off.


The flow of interactions

First, a primer on what happens during an interaction between user and app:

Something triggers the interaction.

The app generates a response to the interaction.

Our overview of app interactivity contains a more detailed breakdown of this interactive flow, and the potential triggers that apps can act on.

These triggers can range from more passive events like schedules or external services. But they can also be something that the user does directly.

Users can invoke apps by using one of a number of entry points — optional app features that shine a Bat-signal into the interactive skies. Keep reading for a study of these archetypal origins of interactions.


Origins for interaction

Unlike superheroes, user interactions don't fall from the sky in a spaceship, or get built in a cave with a box of scraps.

Instead, they happen because of the presence of interaction entry points within an app. These entry points allow users to intentionally invoke a specific workflow.

Our overview of interaction entry points contains information about the implementation of these entry points.

When you're planning your Slack app, the question is — which of these entry points is most appropriate for my app?

In some cases, the answer might be more obvious — for example, if you know your audience has a lower familiarity with interactivity, Slash commands may be difficult for them use.

In many cases, the answer could be all of them. Your app can accomplish many different tasks, with each being best suited to a different entry point.

You should also consider the information that each entry point use will deliver to your app. If your app needs to know the full context of user messages to complete actions, app actions for messages will be ideal.

Keep the distant end-goal in sight like a guiding horizon: a user wants to accomplish something with your app. The rest is simply getting there as productively and pleasantly as possible.

Whichever entry points you add, prepare your app by completing our guide to handling user interactions.


After-action report

The next chapter of our superhero's story continues when a package of information about the interaction arrives. Faster than a speeding bullet, your app will receive an interaction payload and be expected to understand and respond to it.

Leap over to our user interactivity guide for tips on implementation.

If you're still prototyping, our app interactivity section will give you important guidance about the entire interactive flow.

Gain new superpowers by reading our overview of app interaction design.