In its most transformative overhaul yet, Slack, the Salesforce-owned workspace messaging tool, is making strategic shifts in its interface. These alterations come in response to feedback, the evolution of the platform over the years, and the dramatic increase in remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evolution of Slack
From its inception, Slack’s vision expanded beyond just being a team chat app. The platform integrated file storage, alerts, a knowledge base, and other features, all under its “digital HQ” umbrella. However, with growth came challenges. The diverse array of features became somewhat cluttered, making the primary function of team communication occasionally cumbersome, especially for those juggling multiple channels, workspaces, and group discussions.
Main Features of the New Design
- Centralized Home Section: On launching Slack, users will first encounter the new “Home” section, which at a glance, mirrors the familiar Slack interface. This section showcases channels, DMs, and apps, akin to the existing layout. Yet, this is where the similarities end.
- New Sidebar: One of the most prominent modifications is the introduction of a sidebar on the left. This house features such as the new DMs section – a streamlined space that mimics the layouts of many popular messaging apps, even bearing a resemblance to Microsoft Teams. Here, all conversations, irrespective of their channel or workspace origins, converge in one location.
- Unified Activity Window: Delving deeper into the sidebar, users will find the “Activity” window. Noah Weiss, Slack’s chief product officer, likens this to a “unified inbox”. Much as one would amalgamate emails from different accounts into a single timeline, this space aggregates messages, mentions, and reactions across all Slack workspaces. The intent is to facilitate a more efficient start to users’ days.
- Improved Multi-Windowing: For those accustomed to a busier Slack interface, multi-windowing has been refined. Multiple views can be active concurrently, catering to varied working styles.
- Enhanced “Save for Later”: To accentuate previously underutilized features, Slack has revamped its “save for later” capability. Now, the sidebar includes a distinct “Later” menu, streamlining the saving process. Users can effortlessly save content for future reference, add reminders, or mark items as completed.
- Intuitive Video Chat: The Huddles video chat feature has been strategically positioned at the top-right corner of each chat window, adjacent to the canvas creation button. Additionally, the left sidebar’s “Create” button facilitates initiating a new canvas, call, or DM.
Objective and Reception of the Redesign
The principal ambition behind this redesign, as Weiss articulates, is to provide users with enhanced context and focus. The reorganization prioritizes “modes of working” as opposed to mere “types of objects”. The idea is to structure tasks such as catching up on updates, responding to incoming messages, and managing to-do lists more efficiently.
However, embracing change can be challenging. Acknowledging this, Weiss conveys that while the new design might initially seem foreign to some, he remains optimistic about its acceptance. To ensure a smooth transition and feedback, Slack has opted for a phased rollout.
Addressing the Cross-Platform User Experience
The redesign is not exclusive to the desktop interface. Mobile users will observe a more concise bottom row of tabs, simplifying navigation to Home, DMs, and Activity. The constant presence of a search bar, irrespective of the tab in view, enhances accessibility. A touch on the profile picture will display user preferences and profiles.
Slack remains committed to harmonizing the user experience across all devices. Many of the newly introduced desktop features were initially trialed on the mobile and iPad versions. However, understanding the reliance many professionals place on the desktop version, Slack decided against incremental updates, instead opting for a comprehensive update to ensure minimal disruption.
Slack’s vision transcends that of a mere messaging app. It aspires to be the operating system of workspaces, a comprehensive platform where every work-related activity finds a home. With chat now just a tab, Slack is charting its journey into uncharted territories. The redesign is a testament to its commitment to evolving with users’ needs, ensuring they can always find what they’re looking for.