Slack's redesigned its user interface as remote work spikes due to COVID-19

The update makes the service easier to use for newcomers and more customizable for Slack veterans.

Productivity and business messaging service Slack has unveiled a major redesign of its user interface that it says makes the service more intuitive. The updated interface for web and desktop will roll out to existing Slack users in coming days, but will be available immediately to new users. Slack told The Verge it wanted to avoid new users having to get to grips with the old app only to be switched to the new one. An update to Slack's mobile apps will follow later this year. The move comes at a time when many people have been forced to work from home because of the coronavirus.

Easier to navigate and compose — Two of the key new features are an updated new navigation bar that allows for quick searches and the option to toggle between recent conversations, and a compose button that lets users create messages and later decide which user or channel to send them to. Unsent messages are saved as drafts and, sensibly, stored under a "Drafts" on the sidebar.

Tools for pros — Users who pay for Slack's Premium tier will be able to customize their sidebar and arrange channels or conversations into sections. They can create folder-like titles for the sections — complete with emojis, like a red telephone for urgent channels in Slack's example — and a new lightning bolt icon in the message input field will enable access to linked apps with a few clicks.

Slack's new compose button.Slack

Supported apps include Simple Poll and Cisco WebEx, but Slack says more will follow soon. The same shortcut function also houses built-in Slack features including calls, reminders, and its automation visual tool, Workflow Builder.

No downtime, yet — Rival services like Microsoft Teams and gamer messaging platform Discord have both experienced downtime of late because of the spikes in usage they, and other services like Zoom, are experiencing. Slack has so far managed to avoid the same problems, and will be hoping to keep its track record intact as it rolls out its updated interface.