In 2014, I decided to launch a Sketch community powered by Slack. As a die-hard Sketch fan, and with Slack becoming a popular alternative for smaller communites, it felt like the perfect idea to marry the two. It certainly wasn’t an original idea. There were a ton of design and development communities popping up every week or so. However, there wasn’t one for Sketch fans, and at the end of the day, I just wanted to connect with other designers that loved Sketch as much as I did.
Fast forward 3 years later, Team Sketch now has over 5,600 members from around the world. It’s been amazing to see people with different backgrounds and experience, come together to connect, share, and learn— all around a Mac application.
The problem with Slack
In the beginning Slack was the perfect platform. It allowed for real time conversations, had excellent search functionality, offered tons of integrations, and even had decent desktop and mobile apps. The problem is that Slack was never built to support communities. It’s bread and butter, instead, is a service to help companies streamline communication. An email alternative if you will.
As we grew it became more and more difficult to organize conversations. Anything over 10,000 messages got archived, which made search more or less useless. We also ran into storage issues due to the number of gifs, screenshots, and sketch files. This meant I had to get rid of that beloved giphy integration.
The size of the community also played into the issue with notifications. As anyone a part of a Slack community knows, “@+everyone”, “@+channel”, and even “@+here” is basically a death wish. People came out of the woodworks just to argue about whether or not the specific conversation deserved the level of notification it was given. Eventually I had to limit the “@-power” to just me.
All in all Slack just isn’t built for these types of communities.
Moving to Spectrum
So… what’s next?
Pack your bags, because we’re moving to Spectrum.
Spectrum.chat is, as they describe it, “A community platform for the future.”
This new tool, created by Bryn Jackson, Brian Lovin, and Max Stoiber was built to help solve these problems that come with running a community on Slack.
First of all, all you need is one account with Spectrum to join any community on their platform. This means you can say goodbye to all those separate slack accounts for the 10+ channels you belong to.
Secondly, everything is managed within channels and threads. So a conversation on what plugins everyone is using doesn’t get interrupted by someone sharing their latest dribbble shot. This helps promote active conversations around specific topics. When it comes to questions, it also increases the likelihood that someone will answer, even if it’s been asked before.
Finally, Spectrum was built for communities. It’s not without its bugs and quirks, but the team behind it truly understands the importance and impact that online communities can have. They are building the platform in public, allowing everyone to give feedback, and contribute to new features.
These are just a few of the reasons why I’m moving Team Sketch from Slack to Spectrum.
Q & A’s
How do I sign up for Spectrum?
Just go to https://spectrum.chat and create an account using Twitter, Facebook or Google
How do I join the Sketch community?
You can join the community by clicking here: https://spectrum.chat/sketch
What’s happening to the current Slack team?
Team Sketch will remain on Slack for the time being as everyone transfers over to Spectrum.
Will it still be called Team Sketch?
Nope. It’s now just the unofficial Sketch community on Spectrum.
What if I signed up for Team Sketch but haven’t got my invite yet?
No worries. Just go to sketch.chat to join the new community on Spectrum. No more filling out a form. :)
What’s happening to the Team Sketch twitter account?
I’ll be consolidating it into my personal account and will occasionaly be giving updates from there. Feel free to give me a follow.