UPDATE: March 19, 2020: Slack added 7,000 paying customers between Feb. 1 and March 18, amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to an SEC filing Wednesday. By comparison, the company gained about 5,000 paying customers per quarter in FY 2019.
- Slack is remodeling its interface and will begin updates Wednesday, Jaime DeLanghe, director of product management for search and discovery at Slack, told CIO Dive. The rollout will occur over "a number of weeks" with mobile launching later.
- New features include a "compose" button to write a message anywhere on the platform and reimagined navigation for searching any channel. Users can also customize channels, messages and apps into collapsible compartments of their toolbar.
- As most companies move to a predominantly remote workforce during the novel coronavirus outbreak, Slack is offering free upgrades to paid plans, according to CEO Stewart Butterfield. The company has a dedicated [email protected] email address to help with consultations and upgrades as more organizations turn to remote work.
While a longtime favorite with developers, Slack moved from IT teams to enterprises where some functions needed redesign for the everyday employee.
Slack wanted to "take a step back and look holistically across the entire application, and rethink where everything fits in," said DeLanghe.
The communication platform has 12 million daily active users, as of October. Its main rival, Microsoft Teams hit 20 million daily active users in November. But Microsoft has what many cloud-native Silicon Valley darlings lack — a large portion of the enterprise workforce familiar with its tools.
Slack has adjusted its platform and worked with users to develop applications or features they request, including Office 365 integrations.
Many of the new changes come from "our most vocal customers who have been with us for a very long time, who really want better customization. Some of it is newer users who maybe don't have a relationship with Slack," said DeLanghe.
Slack works off tips customers relay to them, like easing message composition or understanding channels, which are a "novel" feature from Slack, according to DeLanghe. The new interface is an attempt to build "a bridge for those earlier users" and newer ones.
The new message composition tool was designed to be user-friendly for those coming from other platforms, said DeLanghe. Unlike the current version of Slack, the feature won't require users to choose a recipient before they start composing their message. Drafts can also be created before a recipient is chosen.
The updates have the average user in mind. Slack used the slash command for a variety of interactions, "but not very many people understood how to use it," said DeLanghe. Now there's a shortcuts feature.
Last year Slack created an interface for developers to create a shortcut to an action; now there's a user interface to enable interactions. It's not limited to shortcuts, it extends to workflows.