is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
Slack is wonderful. I’m now a member of eight Slack teams (that I can remember). Surely there are other users out there that have to cope with more, maybe many times more, than that. But at any given time I might need to access any or all of these eight teams from one or more of my three Macs, two iOS devices or two Android devices. In order to do that, I’ve had to manually sign into Slack teams a total of fifty-six times—an excessive number even if, violating good security practices, I might have reused the same password for a couple of related teams (don’t tell my sysadmin).
Relieving this user pain seems like something the Slack product team should be working on, if they aren’t already. I can imagine signing into a single “SlackHQ ID” on each device, then being presented with a list of all the teams available to me, each of which I can then check or uncheck depending on my preferences for that particular device. I could also associate any or all of my various email addresses with that SlackHQ ID so that I can join new teams with it.
And while we’re on the subject, how about a master view of all activity that’s relevant to me across all of my Slack groups? Sort of like the “all inboxes” feature that’s become common in email clients, which let you see across all of your email accounts.
Of course, this is all easier to blog about than to pull off, especially when, like Slack, you’re often dealing with the typically thorny logistics of corporate IT departments. This kind of scaling challenge is the downside of tremendous growth trajectories like the one that Slack has enjoyed over the past two years or so; adoption and user needs are now outpacing product development. I certainly don’t fault them for not having a solution to this kind of edge problem already. But at this pace, as more and more users encounter similar problems, they’ll need to address it soon, before the bloom is off the rose. Slack has so far been a model of startup execution and generally very good product design, but the next stage in its growth will really test its design and technology foundations.+