For as long as I can remember, I’ve hit the “+” next to “Channels” in Slack’s sidebar when I’m wanting to view a preexisting channel. This doesn’t result in what I’m expecting though. Instead, I’m taken to a screen where I can create a new channel. To get to what I’m after, I have to click the “Channels” text. This happens to me every single time and it’s frustrating. It’s also inconsistent with the “Direct Messages” and its corresponding “+” button, because both of those take you to the same screen, where you can chat with preexisting users.1

At a company meet-up last year, I noticed that my coworkers were making this same mistake. We’d been using Slack as our primary communication tool for more than a year at the time, and we were still making this mistake. It wasn’t just me. The UI was genuinely confusing and needed improvement. We kept going to the screen for creating a new Slack room when all we wanted to do was join a preexisting room.

I sent Slack a support ticket about this 10 months ago and got a “We’ll pass along this feedback!” kind of response. Nothing material has been done about it. Today I’m still making this mistake. For the most part, Slack is a very well designed application for an HTML product.2 But this one thing desperately needs improvement. Since you rarely want to create a channel, I’d recommend burying its button somewhere in the dropdown that appears in the top left corner of the screen. The “+” icon next to “Channels” is prime real estate and should let you choose a preexisting channel.

If Slack doubts I’m right, I recommend it Amplitude-log how many times people hit the “+” button and create a channel, versus how many people hit the “+” button, hit Esc, and click on “Channels.” I’m willing to wager that 98% of the time, people click the “+” and don’t mean to, because it doesn’t do what they think it does.

  1. Obviously these two sections — “Channels” and “Direct Messages” — aren’t quite the same thing. You can’t create a new user in the way that you can create a new channel. But having the same UI element perform different things when clicked based on where it’s at in a related section is a design flaw. ↩︎
  2. The “for an HTML product” here is key. More on that later. ↩︎