There are so many good quotes in that article:
- Most enterprise software looks like a cheap 70's prom suit — muted blues and greys everywhere — so, starting with the logo, we made Slack look like a confetti cannon had gone off.
- Like a well-built home, great software focuses on giving its users hundreds of small, satisfying interactions.
- Every piece of copy is seen as an opportunity to be playful.
Hey Andrew, I've been a fan of MetaLab for most of my career now. It's been great to see your craft evolving over the years.
The initial Slack design was brilliant, but do you actually think that's what made it sticky? Your post focuses mostly on surface level aesthetics, including the brand, the copy and the fun interactions. I'm not saying MetaLab doesn't deserve a ton of credit, you definitely do, and good branding can take a great product and make it loved, which I agree is key. If Slack wasn't loved, it probably wouldn't grow as fast as it did.
But between all of this fun, there's a strong product team constantly listening to pain points and solving them rapidly. There are great, useful features that are thought out and designed well. There's a level of attention to cross-platform and device that surpasses most other products. There is a fantastic strategy behind integrating with anything and everything that'll be useful to your team. There's great keyboard support. There's solid customer service. I've used Campfire extensively and it's nowhere near the level of quality that Slack puts out. All of these things are at the core of the product. All of these things make Slack grow like wildfire.
I live for good design and delightful interactions and I adore your team's work, but I think calling that the "secret sauce" is perhaps a step too far?
All great points, I was really just talking about what made it stand out and get noticed in the first place. Like the burger shack, there's way more to running a successful business ;-) Not trying to downplay that at all!
For me Slack's design and overall look and feel definitely helped it edge out its competitors.
My three main reasons for using Slack are, in order of priority:
- It's free.
- It has desktop/mobile apps.
- I like the design.
I’m the same, and as much as I like the design and personality (really, I do!), I think the desktop client was what sold Slack for me. So many other competitors are mobile first, mobile only, or web only. None of those are good options when I spend most of my time chatting and dragging images to co-workers on a Mac.
I also think Slack nailed the timing. Lots of other decent alternatives (for certain uses) are dying or dead. A graveyard of peer to peer chat services, like AIM. Tried using AIM recently in OS X Messages? Yeah, that’ll get you to sign up for Slack in a hurry. So we did.
I was going to write a rant about this piece , but I found Giff Constable had done one for me http://giffconstable.com/2015/05/slacks-success-and-silos-vs-teams/
One of my pet peeves right now is how design, which is finally getting its well-deserved moment in the sun, is getting a little too full of itself. Design is important, but the sun does not rise and fall on design. It takes a team.
I definitely agree with his post. Wasn't trying to say that it's all the design. It takes a village to raise an app :-)
Andrew I feel like YOU guys should be worth $2billion now ;)
Great post, awesome work.
Wonder if MetaLab was clairvoyant enough to grab equity as part of fee?
They are saying they didn't have a process. I'm curious to know if they did any research, sketching or if they jumped right into Photoshop.
Aww.. that font in Windows...
Huge fan and admirer of MetaLab! Been following it along for many years.
In regards to the discussion around the aesthetics versus the interaction model and what makes the “secret sauce” - I think the cute / enthusiastic design has been effective because its disarming, I didn’t expect the precision of the interaction model that underlies Slack. Its like discovering a cheerleader also has an astrophysics PHD :)
I’m a Slack evangelist (our team are addicts for it at https://qwilr.com) - and the way I describe what I like about it is that it’s a coherence of all these small but vital design decisions.
In isolation, these little decisions don’t seem that impressive, but when they all lock in together, it makes for a really kick-ass experience (something I never, ever, ever thought I’d say about a chat app).
Even though the secret sauce might really just be "tomato, mayo and some relish" - its still a pretty rare event to get a couple of hundred different secret sauces just right, all in one go!
Anyway: top work.
So if shiny and funky is the secret, why is Glip making such big inroads into this space?
Glip doesn't have all the supposed secret sauce. Glip just makes a better burger.
The shiny-shiny and secret sauce can only take you so far. Unless Slack can start adding features, folks will start seeing it for what it is - just a chat app.
Glip doesn't make me laugh or smile, isn't funky and colourful, but I'd take it any day over Slack because it's actually got a much better feature set.
And I know I'm not alone because I heard about Glip thru Slack teams I belong to that switched to it.
Andrew, now is not the time to gloat.
Curious Andrew, what did it cost for the branding and app design? Guessing it wasn't close to $2.8 billion.