HipChat vs Slack

UPDATE: See this post for details on the 3.0 release of HipChat.

UPDATE: See HipChat vs Slack – Part 2 for a feature and pricing comparison between the two products.

I’ve recently started playing around with Slack at work (we’re big HipChat users at the moment) and so far I’m pretty impressed. Tons of integrations, beautiful UI, available on lots of platforms, etc. I really like their idea of using channels for conversations rather than rooms.

My only complaint thus far is the readability of the conversation threads. In the default message theme, there’s a lot of noise around each message in the conversation: icon, name, time sent. And it’s all grouped right around the thing that’s actually important – the message. You can switch to “compact” theme but it’s still pretty noisy IMHO.

HipChat, which also features a ton of integrations as well as native support for a few additional platforms including Windows and Linux, does a very nice job of moving all of that same information (minus the icon as HipChat doesn’t use icons) out of the way. Names on the left, conversation down the center, and times on the right.

This allows you to quickly scan the conversation in whole, and then pick out the pieces that you need to know more about (i.e. who said something when). Also notice that Slack uses a black, bold font for the names in combination with a black regular weight font for the message. HipChat, on the other hand, only uses black for the conversation itself. Everything else is lighter colors. Again, this gets your eye to focus on the most important information first – the conversation.

I look forward to seeing what Slack does in future releases to address these small, but pesky UX issues.

12 thoughts on “HipChat vs Slack”

  1. Yeah I have a love/hate relationship with slack. Overtime, the hate turned into tolerance and now its just something I’ve learned to use daily pesky annoyances aside. if it works for the team, it works for me (The life of a producer) Have you read this? https://medium.com/p/4c59524d650d – A Slack manifesto of sorts.

  2. If you’re not averse to writing a bit of CSS you could setup userstyles to fix (some of) these issues. I’ve done that on my local machine for some basic styling.

    If you prefer standalone apps, then you could use the $5 version of Fluid (http://fluidapp.com/) along with your userstyles.

    We’ve recently butted up against the 10,000 message limit on the free version of Slack.

    $8/user is a big jump from ‘free’, so we may demo HipChat before taking the plunge (although direct IRC connectivity and GDocs/Dropbox integration in Slack is nice.)

  3. Yeah, the layout of the chat stream is much better in HipChat. However, the difference between the Lobby and the list of open chats in has always confused me. Why not just let you search for rooms and users from the main view?

  4. Solid read. I do not enjoy the hipchat experience at all. Perhaps maybe because large companies do not allow individual users to update to the latest version. I feel it was outdated in terms of the look and feel, also aside from presence i would have liked the for away messages or available now, or has a meeting in 5 minutes, ect. I enjoy lync :).

  5. There’s also Matrix.org as an entirely decentralised opensource & open standard approach to this problem – acting both as a way to matrix together islands like HipChat and Slack, as well as letting users pick which servers their data ends up on and which clients they use. We haven’t built HipChat and Slack bridges yet, but it’s only a matter of time. (Plus, our reference server implementation is Python/Twisted 🙂 )

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