Slack is being used by thousands of teams, from Ticketmaster to Target. The messaging app has caught on like wildfire and it’s shown real staying power. Why? It’s no real secret, but the answer might still surprise you: good design. It’s something that a lot of people take for granted, but it can make or break an application like this. It can be hard to distinguish yourself with features alone. Anyone can have video capability, @mentions, cloud storage, etc. But when you make all of those features easy to find, easy to use and fun to incorporate into a work routine, that’s when you really have something special.
The intuitive, yet unexpected, graphic design of the program is what helps Slack easily adapt to your daily work. According to Andrew Wilkinson, the founder of MetaLab, the company that did the graphic work for Slack, they initially weren’t necessarily aiming for anything in particular with the design.
“Figuring out why something is successful in retrospect is like trying to describe the taste of water. It’s hard,” he says. “We aren’t big on process. We prefer to just put our heads down and design stuff, iterating over and over again until something feels right. Slack was no different —there wasn’t any magic process we used”
But MetaLab was using another messaging app, and they saw opportunities to improve existing apps simply through better graphic design. Where the old app would have grey borders, black type and blue links, they gave Slack a “confetti cannon” color scheme. Where the old apps had a loading screen, they put funny, inspirational quotes. In short, their design gave Slack a personality, and in so doing, they didn’t just give employees another messaging app – they gave them an ally.
The lesson? Good design gets things done. This is a battle that people in creative fields fight every day. Companies can’t seem to justify a budget for design because it’s just “making things look pretty” or adding color or a logo, but as we can see here, design has made all the difference in Slack’s success. It’s not rocket science, it’s just design.
Could your workplace communications use a graphic design overhaul? Tribe can help.