New sidebar UI
News

Meet your simpler, more streamlined Slack sidebar

Introducing a refreshed Slack experience to help you stay focused and productive

Author: Andrew DudleyJune 8th, 2022Illustration by Giacomo Bagnara

It’s amazing what people do with Slack. Each week, our users take about 15 billion actions—creating channels, sharing files, starting huddles, mentioning coworkers, adding reacji and so much more.

With all that activity lighting up the sidebar every day, it’s important that you can stay focused and productive. So today, guided by user research and customer feedback, we’re updating the sidebar to be more streamlined and simplified, reducing distractions so you can keep doing your best work.

As so many teams embrace more flexible ways of working with Slack as their digital HQ, we’re committed to ensuring Slack remains a pleasant home for all types of work, where users can easily find the information they need and stay focused on the task at hand.

A cleaner channel list

Two years ago we introduced Slack Connect, a secure way to collaborate with people outside your organization. If a channel had Slack Connect enabled, a double-diamond icon appeared next to its name in the sidebar, indicating that external collaborators might be present.

Likewise, if a channel belonged to multiple Slack workspaces in your Enterprise Grid organization, it would feature a double-circle icon in the sidebar. Helpful visual flourishes, we thought!

But as Slack Connect exploded in popularity, with more and more channels shared within and beyond organizations, all those icons started cluttering our users’ sidebars with unintended visual noise.

So we’re saying goodbye to the icons. Instead, you can now hover over any channel or conversation in the sidebar to learn which external organizations or internal workspaces have access. By replacing ambiguous icons with more direct language, we’re taking the guesswork out of channel navigation while also removing visual excess from the sidebar. Win-win.

We’re extending this update to Slack’s iOS and Android apps too. But since hovering isn’t possible on a mobile device, we’ll instead display a helpful message above the composer in channels where Slack Connect has been enabled. That way, mobile users can easily discover whether people from external organizations are in a channel before posting a message.
new slack sidebar mobile

More subtle notification badges

When someone sends you a direct message or mentions you in a conversation, you probably want to be notified. But you probably don’t want to be bothered. Unfortunately, for some of our users, that’s the effect our red notification badges produced.

To catch your attention without demanding it, we’re replacing our existing notification badges with more pleasant, desaturated versions. If you’re using Slack’s default aubergine theme, your notification badges will now be a slightly transparent white, so you can discover them when you want to and ignore them when you don’t. After all, you likely want to focus on your work, not incoming alerts.

If at any time you want to revert to those red badges, just navigate to Preferences > Themes.
new slack sidebar notification badges

Reorganized context menus and better readability

Finally, you might not give much thought to context menus—the lists of actions that pop up when you right-click on channel names. But given how often these menus get used, we knew making some small improvements could have big benefits for users.

So we’re refreshing Slack’s context menus, grouping related actions into sections to help make them easier to scan. With this smarter way of ordering, your cognitive load is lightened, and you can more quickly take the actions you want while avoiding accidentally taking ones you don’t.

And we’ve tidied up text throughout the sidebar, neatening the alignment of section headers and conversations and tightening up copy. All of these small adjustments add up to a more pleasant, easier-to-scan sidebar experience.

“Millions of people around the world use Slack. These changes are about being good stewards of their time, making everyone’s working lives just a little simpler, more pleasant and productive.”

Ali RaylSVP of Product, Slack

To tailor your sidebar even further, you can adjust your preferences or add custom sections at any time. Otherwise, start enjoying a better Slack experience thanks to our streamlined sidebar, rolling out to all customers starting on June 8.

With so many teams embracing more flexible ways of working with Slack as their digital HQ, we’re committed to ensuring Slack stays a pleasant, productive home for all types of work, where users can easily find the information they need and stay focused on the task at hand. Today’s updates are just the latest example of that commitment.

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