Why Slack wins (and HipChat doesn’t)

I was about to post this on Twitter:

“Slack Cheat Sheet” search on Google: 838 results. “HipChat Cheat Sheet”: ‘no results found for “HipChat Cheat Sheet”’

If you follow me on Twitter, you would know I am no fan of HipChat. On my recent change of jobs I was required to regress from Slack to HipChat. I have been in pain ever since.

Yet, I realised before I hit post, that my Twitter message might have been misconstrued. My very unscientific data point was to show how users respond and become passionate about a product. My logic was that 838 people/companies love their Slack experience so much they were willing to share it with the world. HipChat on the other hand has garnered no such love.

What I realised is some may misconstrue the data. They could frame it as “HipChat must be such a good product that it doesn’t need cheat sheets, unlike Slack.”

This argument fails on two significant levels:

  1. If you have ever used both products, you will quickly realise that Slack is a substantially superior product. It is the greatest example of putting the user at the heart of the product. I recall the first time I needed to fix a spelling error — I instinctively hit the up-arrow … and that was the way the product responded allowing me to immediately fix the typo. It sounds silly, but at that moment, I emotionally bonded with the product. (That probably says a lot about why I am writing this post).
  2. My experience above is anecdotally how marketing, especially in the technology product space, is fundamentally changing. Customers want to be more than just consumers: they want to bond with the brand, they want to be advocates (and dare I say evangelists) for that product and brand. This is party to be seen as a the mythical ‘early adopter’ (ego driven) and partly to share what they have found with their communities (more selfless). 838 posts on how to best use a product can’t be wrong.

To that last point, I am still awed by the open source developer communities and how they self-support and develop. There is a joke in the developer community that says a developer only hopes the rest of the business doesn’t realise his primary skill set is searching StackOverflow (a community resource where people ask and answer typically programming questions). The underlying truth behind this is that hundreds of thousands of individuals have out of their own time and volition willingly answered random questions and helped strangers. As this is now ‘single point of truth’ for most programming, it’s elegant proof that customers want to do more than just consume a product.

This is a long way to say that I am still missing Slack. And it continues to stand out in my mind as one of the best UX centred products on the market.

On a similar tack, one of the common refrains from Slack devotees is that it replaces Email:

Not only don’t you see the same articles for HipChat, it is the fundamental user experience that drives the adoption and success of Slack. It wins on all counts.

Originally published at www.linkedin.com.

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