Every company, every team communicates in its own way. With our team we communicate through Slack and we love it! This app, launched in 2013 by the founder of Flickr, is currently one of the most widely talked about and used team communications tools. We’ve been using Slack for almost two years now and it has proved to be incredibly useful for a multidisciplinary team like ours. We started with it when it was still in early beta and have grown along with it to its current state. The main reason to join was that we were growing very tired of the infinite email threads with too many people in the CC.
The overall experience The general Slack design and functionality look simple but it is pretty advanced on the background. Since Slack syncs between all major desktop and mobile platforms, it creates a seamless cross-platform experience. Slack’s main chat feature provides one place for discussion, and thus, one archive for all messages and files. And it cuts pretty much all our internal email traffic. As we run many projects at the same time (concerning different people and teams) Slack allows for multiple team support in which you can distinguish between project, topics and channels. It's an open and transparent team communication tool. An extra fun feature is that we gave Slack a personal touch with a customized color interface. But what makes Slack so useful? We offer our three main features.
Notifications Slack notifies you about items that need your attention. You can receive notifications on your computer or smartphone. Anytime, Anywhere. When you’re busy viewing a different team or working in another application or when you're offline and on the go. The good thing is that you can customize these notifications, otherwise they will drive you nuts! Adjust your preferences for specific channels and groups in the notifications settings. This allows you to only receive notifications when someone says your @<name> or @everybody in a channel or only the online people in the channel with @here. Besides these notifications in general channels you can also send and receive direct messages which will push notifications to you. In the end, if they do drive you crazy, you can mute certain notifications and be never notified of unread activity. But then we suggest you leave that specific group or channel ;). The notification system offers you a great way of personalizing Slack and be selective in the information overload. This is a huge advantage compared to e-mail. In general @ aFrogleap we notice that you are disturbed less with unnecessary content. Urgent messages on the other hand will find you faster. The addictiveness to checking your e-mail will also go down a notch, even for client facing team members.
Search Search is one of Slack's core features: Messages and files you add to Slack are instantly searchable. Not just the meta data but also the content of all files (!!). Slack will help you to narrow down your results with the use of search modifiers. Type + in the search box for a quick list to choose from. As you start typing in a search term, Slack will show you related channels, private groups, direct messages with team members, and search history. Type in has:link or has:star and Slack will search for messages that contain a URL or messages that you have starred. Type in / and you will get an overview of all the commands matching to this request. This extensive way of searching is one of the reasons why Slack is ahead of other communication platforms in our opinion.
Integrations Slack is very useful when you can see everything your team is doing. Integrations let you automatically pull information and activity from outside tools into Slack. The ease of adding and managing integrations, even custom open source integrations, is great. We have integrated third-party applications like Google Docs, Dropbox, JIRA, Crashlytics, Hubot (Github) and Google Calendar. On top of this, Slack displays the link and actual content shared from platforms like Youtube or Soundcloud directly in the channels. This allows you to directly play it within Slack instead of switching to other webbrowsers or apps. This integrated and seamless experience is definitely also an industry standard that is difficult to beat.
Suggestions for improvement? Our main improvement point for Slack is the quality of the (not very native) mobile app experience. It could be faster and more responsive. It should be blazing fast actually. Think Whatsapp fast. With offline content to work with if your internet connection is weak. Another point of improvement could be integrated conference or video calls. This seems a logical B2B extension.
Let us know through Facebook or Twitter what you think about Slack and why you love it (or not).