Slack has had its first major redesign in years, rearranging its interface to make it easier to find all your work conversations and keep multiple workplaces organized. For everyone concerned that the chat app you rely on for work has drastically changed, don’t worry — here’s how everything’s shifted to a new and hopefully more convenient setup.
Slack last rearranged its layout in March 2020, ironically right as COVID spread to pandemic levels and lockdowns forced people to work from home and rely heavily on work chat apps. After gathering feedback from users since then, the new update is rolling out Wednesday to free users first, with paid users to follow.
A desktop view of Slack after its August 2023 redesign.
The interface hasn’t been drastically changed, but Slack user veterans will notice the difference. The left column has been reorganized to have centralized tabs for your channels (“Home”), direct messages (“DMs”) and notifications (“Activity”). There’s also a “Later” tab that appears only if you’ve tagged posts you want to return to later on. Toward the bottom on the left column is a search button and a new catch-all button to create a start a new direct message, huddle or canvas (a feature launched earlier this year as a sort of channel-wide sticky note).
The rest of Slack is still virtually the same. Tapping the “Home” tab shows a central column of channels and unread direct messages — click on any of those and they’ll expand in the main space on the right.
The color scheme has changed to help you distinguish between the leftmost column of tabs and the central channels column. (In a provided example, a darker purple for the former and a lighter purple for the latter. The update also brings more theme color choices.) And if you’re switching between multiple workplace Slacks, just click the button on the lefthand column above the “Home” tab.
Slack’s designers made these changes to help you stay focused and less distracted, said Slack senior director of product design Tina Chen. “We try to keep the interface as simple as possible and as intuitive as possible,” she said.
What else has changed on Slack?
There are quality-of-life updates too. If you hover your cursor over Activity notifications, a small preview will pop up to give you a peek at what’s going on elsewhere — to see if you need to address it now or come back to it later.
Mobile view is also getting an update. The bottom row of tabs has been simplified to just Home, DMs and Activity. Search has been relocated to a bar that sticks around at the top of the screen no matter which tab you’re looking at, while tapping your photo icon brings up your profile and preferences.
This big cross-platform update is an attempt to align mobile and desktop versions — indeed, most of the new changes were explored in part in the mobile app as well as in an iPad version update released last year. But since so many users depend on Slack for their day-to-day productivity, the company didn’t want to trickle in layout changes bit by bit on desktop. Instead, they dropped this big shift all at once to consolidate them for as short of an adjustment as possible.
The update also opens up design space for Slack to add features down the line, including artificial intelligence. While the company didn’t have anything specific in mind or anything to announce, Slack introduced its vision of AI integration back in May, which will allow you to add your choice of AI large language models, like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Anthropic’s Claude, in your Slack workspace to help with day-to-day tasks.