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Which is kind of a frustrating answer, because Slack's UX sucks. Its desktop app is just a wrapped web page; the fonts and colors match nobody's operating system; the fffffffffffffffffriendly scroll bar; all the cutesy messages and iconography; "Reconnecting…"; etc, etc.

Yes, I understand that it's still friendlier to use than IRC, but there's a middle ground between "easy to use" and "still looks and works like a proper, professional desktop application." In fact, HipChat is pretty close, even though it's just a wrapped web page too.

It's kind of frustrating to see that all of these Slack alternatives are pretty much taking the same crappy UI cues from Slack. It's kind of like how, until the last few years or so, many common Unix/Linux desktops looked like Win95 rip-offs… You don't need to strive for familiarity if what people are familiar with sucks.

UX is not design. The fonts, colors, and silly features like emoji are gravy.

UX includes the cold experience. If you sign up with just one user, Slack creates a couple rooms and has a bot talk to you.

UX includes history management. Slack makes everything searchable and is good enough that most people can find what they want.

UX includes ways to level up your proficiency with the tool. Slack doesn't force integrations, defaults to 1-click OAuth integrations, and lets you explore writing code to integrate, without getting in your way before you're ready.

I don't think it's perfect, but having recently switched from Hipchat and hated on IRC-for-companies for years, they've done a lot of things right.

To maybe make the distinction clearer: UX and "interaction design" generally are more like what people think of as "game design" than what people think of as "graphic design." They're about choice-paths, affordances, reflexes, flows, etc.

US is also responsiveness and snappy feeling. None of which slack get right at all. The native app is merely a wrapper around their web-view, yet takes around 15 seconds to load. Then eats > 320 Mb of RAM and continues to eat more (it leaks somewhere). The web-app itself is far worse wrt speed and resource-usage.

That is unacceptable, especially when you look at the alternatives it replaces: IRC, XMPP/Jabber and whatnot.

I guess it mostly comes down to Slack choosing the "wrong" stack here: Web-technology is, as is shown quite often, simply not ready for such heavy UX/UIs. Sure, it can be done, but when compared to the simplicity and speed of "native" it simply does not cut it. Yet.

Regardless of which platform you're talking about, the Slack app is emphatically not merely a wrapper around the web view. The resource consumption of their various client interfaces can be improved, but what are you trying to compare it to? In that particular context, a better comparison of any of the Slack client apps (native/web) would be Outlook.

Slack is not replacing IRC or XMPP at all. Slack uses these protocols as part of a groupware suite. As discussed elsewhere in the thread, IRC-at-companies draws mixed reactions. XMPP is a protocol that has seen very wide adoption in the enterprise, with many implementations from a variety of vendors, with a variety of resource consumption issues. XMPP is very much a web technology in the sense you're talking about.

And you are correct that it proved to be a very bad stack for something like Slack, when Google first tried it in 2009: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apache_Wave

If you really think Slack has made poor technology choices, I'd suggest reading what Stewart had to say on the subject in this interview: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/182287/The_story_of_Glitc...

> but what are you trying to compare it to? > In that particular context, a better comparison of any of the Slack client apps (native/web) would be Outlook.

This differs for everyone. For me, it merely replaces XMPP/IRC: group-chat. That is in the last 3 teams where we used slack.

Others, and I guess mostly people who live in their email-inbox, may see Slack as a replacement for their Mail Suite. Again others may see it as a replacement for teleconferencing/skype.

It really depends where you come from. Me, I come from a simple, integrated IRC and XMPP client. Now we all use Slack and I have a poor experience compared to the Just Works[tm] chat (through empathy) on Ubuntu.

* Slack crashes 2, 3 times per week. Mostly memory issues. Empathy never crashed on me, that I can remember.

* Empathy is, AFAIK always on. I switch off Slack when not working because (1) it abuses resources and (2) it addds another icon to my toolbar (empathy integrates in Ubuntu's message icon).

* Empathy starts whenever I start my OS. Slack can be configured to do so. But when it does, its slow startup time and CPU-gobbling while starting makes my desktop appear sluggish.

I'm comparing it to a well integrated, thin and snappy XMPP client, which is what Slack replaces for me. And Slack comes out poor. All over.

Slack's UX is amazing.

What many people seem to miss about Slack, is that it isn't a replacement for IM/IRC. It is a replacement for email. (Email is pretty embedded infrastructure though, so it still exists as a lower layer system protocol.)

The reason the UI design of these tools looks like Slack is because they are trying to get some of Slack's thunder. But the wannabes are making the mistake of copying the UI without trying to copy the UX.

None of your comments about Slack's UX are actually about UX; they're about the UI.

Fair enough. How's this: If the UI of a desktop application does not match the standard appearance and interface of the rest of the operating system, a bad UX is almost a certainty, in my experience.

If I want to share a diagram with Patrick on our internal Slack --- which we set up in under 10 minutes --- I select the diagram on my desktop and drag it into the window for the Slack channel. Everyone on that channel sees the diagram immediately.

I do not give a shit what Slack's buttons look like. I can't do that with IRC. Even if we're all standardized on a modern OSX IRC client, we're still going to end up "sharing" URLs.

Just in case you don't know, several modern IRC clients will automatically fetch links posted in the channel and, if they are images (or even things like YouTube videos), display them inline. I don't know if any of them support automatically converting pasted images to links, though; it sounds sinple enough that I wouldn't be surprised if at least one did.

Of course, what you mentioned is only one of many things that Just Work in Slack and are at best a pain on IRC, but still.

Not all criticisms of Slack are "Use IRC instead!". Albright suggested HipChat as a better example.

I do care what Slack looks like though - the chat window has so much wasted whitespace that it doesn't show a lot of comms; add in a space-guzzling integration or two and it gets really hard to follow a conversation. Hipchat uses space a lot more efficiently.

Again, you can use HipChat and get something closer to the best of both worlds; drag-and-drop file sharing with a standard (well… more standard-ish) OS X interface. It's great for you that look-and-feel isn't so important to you, but it is to a lot of people, and that includes myself.

At any rate, on Slack, I once drag-and-dropped a text file with the output of a shell script that a colleague wanted to see. He started telling me how it was strange that the output seemed to cut off right in the middle of a line. lol, just kidding, Slack was just cutting it off like that, since Slack apparently can't show more than the first few K of a text file for some reason SO WHY IS IT SHOWING IT AT ALL ARGH

I'm sure Slack isn't the best available tool; I just know it's better than IRC.

For every kind of team sysops work I've ever done, I would say that Slack is indeed the best available tool.

Not every organization needs this kind of workflow though, so the best available tool depends on what your organization has to integrate. (Disclosure: I've never tried HipChat.)

How about this: A very strongly worded statement with a huge assumption stating almost certainty, with a small caveat of 'in my experience' allowing me to refute anyone who might spend time listing out all of the examples of how this is wrong.

In MY experience, it is Certainly good UX to not have to learn multiple ways of doing things, one for the in-browser experience, and one for the desktop experience.

I disagree. Microsoft Office hasn't looked like the rest of Windows for years. iTunes looks unlike any other OS X app. Photoshop has never used native UI. Non-native UI can be done very well as long as it's not entirely foreign, or an uncanny emulation of almost-native.

How odd that you used three applications with widely despised UIs as your examples.

You're saying: the efficacy of a UX can be predicted entirely by the UI's adherence to other UI.

Which is also an erroneous statement. I use vi(m) on OSX. vi's UI "does not match the standard appearance and interface of the rest of the operating system."

Thus, I predict that VI has a horrible UX. However, I am incorrect.

Why is this so?

"Proper, professional.." And what does that exactly mean? Beige isn't necessary to be professional. There are plenty of 'proper, professional' applications that have a horrible UX and an ugly UI. Not sure who the arbiter of 'professionalism' is. Is there an ISO spec to which we can refer? Or do we just find the guy who is still using MS DOS and ask for his advice? I'm stumped on how to uglify Slack enough to have it beknighted as 'proper and professional.'

True. But that's my personal problem with Slack, and I guess that of many others too - Slack could be just as awesome as it is if it used IRC on the backend. Instead, it just fragments the already shredded realtime communications infrastructure. For me, this smells of a typical SV startup that tries to "disrupt" something by locking people in and then extracting value out of them before eventually getting acquihired and hanging them out to dry. As it is now, the success of Slack and HipChat is a danger to communication on the Internet.

...except irssi and WeeChat offer substantially better UX*

* personal opinion, yes, but it seems quite obviously true.

Well not sure if there are enough repeated UX-es in there. If there would be, maybe 5 more, I'd be convinced, but so far not really.

UXUXUX... is also a feature of many open source alternatives.

You mean "Lets clone Slack's UI and say 'look we are just as good at UX as Slack!'"

This is the part where you offer a few links to alternatives and demonstrate why said "open source alternative" meets that requirement.

Otherwise, you have a noisy and unhelpful comment.

A well administered IRC channel has all of those, though typically you farm out to an image hoster for the pasting of images.

So we're hiring an IRC administrator now?

Hey. They're the only ones who can dish out k-lines!

How about searching message history? Notifications when you aren't at your computer? Where's the mobile client with push notifications?

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