Question

What’s missing from team chat apps?

It’s been 7 years since Slack changed how teams chat—and now that it (along with Microsoft Teams, Google Chat, Discord, and more) has made team chat ubiquitous, chat feels the same almost everywhere.

What’s still missing? What would be the things you’d like to see team chat apps do next to improve team communications? What could be the next change that every chat app ends up adding, much as they’re all Slack influenced today?

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patelmonika9's avatar
a year ago

Before looking at the Slacks cost, keep in mind that its basic plan only allows you to make one-on-one audio/video calls, while its premium plans only allow up to 15 members in a group audio/video call and don't have a remote access feature to help its users. Troop Messenger, on the other hand, allows for more members in group audio/video calls and empowers its users by providing remote access and screen sharing options in calls.

5 points
abbybarsky's avatar
2 years ago

Slack (or Teams, Google Chat, whatever your flavor) has been positioning itself as the destination for work. Even the Slack website says, "Welcome to your new HQ."

As our collaboration becomes more centralized in Slack, most other SaaS tools don't have the incentive to add collaboration features like commenting, mentioning, annotating. So, in order to talk about what's going on in these tools, we flock to Slack.

Imagine cooking in the kitchen with your significant other. But, every time you wanted to make an adjustment to the recipe, or ask a question, you had to go into the living room. Why?!

When I'm cooking up some dashboards in Google Analytics, I want to be talking about it in Google Analytics.

The next team chat apps will improve communication by integrating collaboration features into the software where we actually do the work. Commenting, mentioning, and annotating will be consistent across tools, so you can ask questions, give feedback, and share ideas easily based on whatever analytics dashboard, email campaign, or PDF you're looking at, and then get notified all in one place, in a single inbox.

This is our goal at Cord(formerly known as Radical). Don’t collaborate in one place, collaborate in the right place.

5 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @abbybarsky )
2 years ago

Very cool, love your team's vision for Cord! Reminds me of ... was it Stumbleupon that let you add notes to a webpage that others could see? Basically the idea that people could comment on any website, and others with that extension installed could see those comments. Feels like a similar concept here.

Does Cord have a way to see all chat messages together, outside of its links to the apps? Say I wanted to pull up the GA chat while in another app, is that possible?

Then curious: With building Cord, what unexpected chat challenges has your team uncovered so far?

1 point
abbybarsky's avatar
@abbybarsky (replying to @maguay )
2 years ago

Wow, hadn't thought about StumbleUpon in a minute. But yes, similar.

Cord will have an activity screen that shows all your team's messages together, grouped by app. Pulling up one of those chats inside another app is an interesting use case that we should definitely explore.

An unexpected chat challenge we've uncovered is related to that: People want conversations to span multiple pages in a single tool; for example, anytime you visit a page in Chartio, it may have message already there instructing you to filter by a specific project. Kind of like a pinned message, but based on domain name instead of a channel. This is coming up in our roadmap 🙌

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @abbybarsky )
2 years ago

It's wild isn't it, how many apps were so popular and important for a bit, before they just ... disappeared.

That's interesting, basically persistent messages across a product. You could almost end up with something of a sticky notes app alongside the chat features there.

2 points
ivmirx's avatar
2 years ago

Good threading UX. What Slack did is hard to follow and confusing because users need to decide if they reply in a thread or in place, and people tend to have different criteria for starting a thread. Reposting some messages back to the channel makes it even more chaotic.

But one-dimensional messaging hits the limits quite fast. For example, Discord servers end up having channels like "chat-1", "chat-2", "chat-3" to split discussions.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ivmirx )
2 years ago

@ivmirx Honestly I'm not certain Slack Threads are any better than the original Slack without threading. If anything, I've lost conversations more inside threads than I used to in channels (though both can get incredibly hard to follow on larger teams).

Curious: Have you tried the thread-focused Twist from the Todoist team, or Google Chat's default threaded view (which, originally, was the only way to chat in Google Hangouts Team Chat, though not they're letting you set new channels to be chat or threads by default)? And if so, do you feel either do a better job at threading than Slack?

3 points
ivmirx's avatar
@ivmirx (replying to @maguay )
2 years ago

I used Twist briefly, and, from what I remember, it's basically an old-school forum but for companies. This approach makes more sense to me: it is less isolated than email chains, but also asynchronous and each thread there has its specific topic (not just channel topic). Plus, it's always possible to move off-topic discussions to a separate thread.

I think that linear BBs from the 2000s is the best format for serious discussions, while Capiche/Reddit style of threading is better for QAs, with opinions and answers staying on the top level.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @ivmirx )
2 years ago

Oh interesting, that makes sense of Twist being a bit more like a forum with its focus on threads.

To me the interesting thing with Slack (and Teams, in a different direction) is the app integrations, but neither do that much to push the core text chat experience forward.

In a way, if you take away the chat, Slack ends up being almost a new take on the Terminal for SaaS, while Teams is a bit more of Finder/Explorer for web apps. Which makes both hard to compete with, as chat between people isn't their focus as much as being a hub for work.

3 points
CostcoChicken's avatar
2 years ago

We use both Basecamp and Slack for team chat/collaboration. We also have Teams, but truthfully, we all know the M365 bundle is the only reason...and if I drill down even further it’s really only for Excel (GSheets isn’t there yet)...sorry for the tangent.

As for team chat, Slack truly is best of breed with the exception of channel bloat. Many team members refuse to use Threads. Basecamp helps organize it by separating Messages/CampfireChat/Pings but I really believe the next level of team chat should utilize AI or Machine Learning to organize discussions for the users and teams between channels.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @CostcoChicken )
2 years ago

@CostcoChicken There really should be a better way to catch up on conversations inside team chat. I'm a fan of Nuzzle for Twitter—it basically pulls out all the links that were shared by multiple people you follow, for a quick way to catch up on what's "happening". If someone could make something like that for Slack that could summarize conversations and pull out top messages, that'd be amazing.

Interesting you're using both Basecamp and Slack. Do you have a split between how you use the two, with project specific chat in Basecamp and general chit-chat in Slack? And overall, how do you find Basecamp chat, as it's quite a bit more basic than other team chat offerings?

Interesting to hear your Microsoft Teams experience as well. I feel the primary reason its been adopted so widely is thanks to being bundled with Office 365 and its Office app integrations (where, having web apps for Word/Excel/PowerPoint inside chat is a genuinely useful feature if your primary work interaction is around Office files ... which fits education almost better than any other use-case).

1 point
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