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.