Key Takeaways: Slack Team Messaging
- Slack is a great service to keep your entire team connected through the use of its text messaging and video and audio conferencing features.
- While the platform is excellent for communication, those needing a tool that helps with project and task management should likely look at other options.
Slack is one of the leading tools for team communication. It’s designed to simplify comms through the use of direct messages, and it supports long-form conversations with built-in functionality for video calls. This means Slack can be the perfect companion software for your external project management platform. To see if it’s worthy of its popularity, we put it to the test in our Slack review.
If you have used any Slack alternatives, like Microsoft Teams or Google Meet, migrating to Slack shouldn’t be an issue. It works like most other communications tools, and its main strength lies in its simplicity; it’s super easy to use and ideal for both office and remote teams. We should note that Slack isn’t really built for task management. For that, we suggest reading our roundup of the best task management software.
We’ve used Slack in the past at Cloudwards, so our opinion comes from firsthand, long-term experience. With that, we know exactly the key features you need to look out for and which areas the software can improve. We will outline all you need to know throughout the course of this review.
Slack Review: Pros & Cons
- Simple communication tools
- No user limits on free version
- Screen sharing & video calls
- Third-party app integrations
- Comparatively expensive
- Inconsistent video call quality
Many of the communication features are accessible on the free version of Slack, including the ability to make as many public and private channels as you’d like. However, features are adapted to offer a little more as you rise through the paid plans. For example, you can only create posting permissions for one Slack channel on the free plan, a restriction that’s removed on higher paid plans.
Free Version Features
Free users can create one workspace for their business, and there are no limits to how many users you can add to a workspace. You can send as many direct messages as you need, but your chat history is limited to just 90 days, a restriction that’s removed on paid plans.
While you can make video and audio calls to other team members, they’re limited solely to one-on-one conversations. You can send video and audio clips too, giving you a little bit more versatility than with written messages. You can share files up to 1GB in size, and Slack offers unlimited file storage, too.
In regards to integrations, free users can integrate with any app on the Slack app directory. However, you can only integrate with 10 apps simultaneously. Slack integrates with third-party services such as Trello, Google Drive, Hubspot and many more — further enhancing capability for file sharing, team collaboration and workflow automations.
Pro Account Features
The Pro plan removes the chat history limit, giving you access to all of your messages, regardless of when they were sent. Users can also integrate all of the apps on the Slack app directory if they wish, as integrations are unlimited, too. You can also use video and audio calls to have group conversations, and there are no time limits to how long a call can last.
There’s still a workspace limit, although you can customize your Slack channel and rename it to a title that suits you. The default name of the channel is “general,” and in all honesty, paying to be able to rename hardly seems worthy of the price tag.
Other tools on the Pro plan include a workflow builder, allowing users to create simple or complex workflow automations that do anything from automating project information whenever a new user joins a Slack channel to automatically pinging an editor whenever a piece of work is marked as complete in an external project management tool. Users can also enjoy priority support on the Pro plan.
Regarding communication, workspace owners can create posting permissions for all their channels on the Business+ plan. Other than that, all communication features remain the same, including the one-workspace limit.
However, added features become available for security and administration. For security, users can also use SSO to access their account. In terms of admin, you can export all chat data and choose which of the many data centers you would like Slack to use to store your business data.
We’ll cover customer support in further detail later in the review, but we’ll note here that Business+ users enjoy a faster response time from the support team than those on the free and Pro plans. For Business+ users, Slack promises a four-hour response time, with support available 24/7.
Enterprise Grid is the pinnacle plan available from Slack. It targets medium- to large-sized businesses, and users on this plan can create unlimited workspaces and channels. From there, your plan benefits pertain to compliance and admin. Slack can provide support for HIPAA compliance, which is a huge benefit for those in the medical space.
Slack Features Overview
Slack isn’t the cheapest messaging app on the market, and the cost can quickly add up if you intend on adding lots of users. While the Slack free plan is great, larger teams that need Slack’s video capabilities for group meetings are going to have to dip into their finances.
Slack offers three paid plans, and you can receive a monthly discount on its cheapest plan if you pay annually.
The Pro plan regularly offers 50% off for the first three months; afterwards, it’s per month per user on annual billing. That’s a little higher than the Microsoft Teams Business plan, which costs $6 per user per month, and a lot higher than Pumble, which comes in at $1.99 per user per month.
The Business plan is per user per month. You’ll have to contact the sales team for pricing information on the Enterprise Grid plan, as it’s tailored to your specific needs. Whether or not Slack offers good value really depends on how much you like the product, as there are cheaper alternatives offering similar user experience and functionality.
There are several ways you can use Slack, with apps for desktop, web and mobile. We did most of our work inside the desktop app, which you can log in to after creating a Slack account.
Depending on your role within your business, you’ll either sign up as a workspace owner or through an invite link sent from the owner of a specific workspace.
Getting going is hassle free, and you can add information to your profile so those who need to know can identify your role within a team. The information includes a profile picture, your position and contact information. You can also set your local time, which is useful for remote teams doing asynchronous collaboration.
You can set your status to things like “do not disturb” or “in a meeting” so other team members can determine your availability. For your own peace of mind, you can jump into your notification settings and “pause notifications” or switch them off altogether if you don’t want any interruptions.
The layout of Slack’s user interface is simple and easy to work with. The left-hand side is where you’ll access most of your messages. At the top of the menu, you can quickly access new direct messages, in addition to message threads. Threads can be a little confusing at first, as they’re responses to specific messages within a larger conversation, but you get used to them in time.
Next you will see a run down of your different Slack channels, where you will do all your group messaging. If you feel you have too many channels, you can easily disband them and clean up your menu. Beneath your channels is a rundown of all your direct messages with other team members, and finally, below direct messages, you can see your integrated apps.
If you’ve used any modern-day app for sending messages and having group chats, you’ll take to Slack like a duck to water. Inside your message box (where you write your message) is a list of options which let you add emojis, change your fonts and tag a specific team member, so they know your message is intended for them (very useful in group chats).
You’ll also notice a video camera and microphone. Selecting either of these is how you will send your video and audio notes. For video notes, you have the option of blurring your background or uploading a custom background of your choice. There’s a five minute time limit for video and no time limit for audio.
It’s not immediately obvious how to begin one-on-one and group calls with other users. In the very bottom-left hand corner — next to a team member name or Slack channel — is a grayed out circle and a pair of headphones. Clicking this icon will begin the calling process.
For group calls, you can select specific team members within a channel, so you don’t need to add everyone. In use, we had calls drop once or twice (when using a stable internet connection) and the sound quality wasn’t great, but overall quality was passable.
Slack Mobile Apps
Slack mobile apps are available for smartphone and tablet, on both Android and iOS. They work very much in the same way as the desktop app and web-version of Slack. You can access group messages and private conversations, as well as make calls. Everything functions well, but we still think the desktop app provides a better user experience, as the larger screen helps take advantage of Slack’s full functionality.
Slack works very well, and other than some iffy call quality, we did not experience any lag or crashes when using the app. We found we could quickly attach and share files, although upload speeds did not feel the snappiest we have ever experienced.
Slack’s simple interface means you shouldn’t need much support using the app. If you do, sadly, there’s no in-app guidance available, but you can access the knowledgebase via the website, which we will go through later on in the “customer support” section of this review.
Security & Privacy
Messages are encrypted both in transit and at rest, which is standard and will help keep unwanted eyes away from your conversations. Slack, however, doesn’t offer end-to-end encryption, so in theory someone at Slack could access your messages if they wanted to. For business communication, where you may share sensitive information, this isn’t great news.
Then we move to data collection, where things really take a turn for the worse. Slack openly states that it may share your data with third-party companies, and those companies are likely going to use that data to send you targeted ads for their products. In a time where we’re all becoming tired of unwanted ads thrust upon us, it’s not great going from Slack.
If you’re looking for an app that offers end-to-end encryption for messages, plus has features for managing projects, it’s worth checking our Basecamp review or our Basecamp vs Slack piece to see how they really match.
Slack has several support options if you hit a wall when using the software. There’s a knowledgebase that’s filled with plenty of how-tos in the form of step-by-step guides and videos. Plenty of articles are also available to help you get started and work your way around the platform, all of which we found detailed and useful.
In terms of contacting Slack, options quickly dry up. There’s no telephone support or live chat on any of the plans, meaning you only have the option of raising a support request via email. Response times become quicker on higher paid plans, but they are still limited to “within four hours,” which isn’t fantastic for anyone needing a quick response.
We reached out to Slack to request some further information surrounding user privacy. We received a response within three hours, and we were satisfied with how the support team resolved our query.
The Verdict: Slack
Slack is an excellent instant messaging tool, and the thousands of Slack integrations available allow you to expand your experience even further — because of which, we really like what Slack has to offer, especially with such a great free plan.
Did you find this review useful? What are your thoughts on Slack pricing? Is there another messaging app you would like us to review? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading.
FAQ: Slack Review
Although Slack has a free version, some users may find Slack a little pricey when it comes to its paid plans. For those looking for a software platform predominantly for video calls, there are better options, such as Google Meet and Zoom.
Slack is a very good team messaging app, and is useful for file sharing and video conferencing.
Yes. Slack remains one of the more popular instant messaging apps for team collaboration and communication.
Slack is a business messaging app that lets office and remote teams communicate through the use of instant messaging, plus audio and video calls.