Reimagining Chat

When we first launched our private beta to a select group of folks in October of last year we didn’t originally launch with Chat – we had yet to build it out and we weren’t entirely sure how to best implement this feature within the context of our unique community.

Since then, we opened up 1-to-1 directly chat (i.e. Direct Messages) and that resonated enough for us to spend a little more time on Group Messaging, which we released in the last update, Bronze Chicken:

But, we know that there is even more to build and we think now is the time to seriously upgrade the chat experience, nearly end-to-end.

Consequently, we’re working on a much larger, complete redesign of our entire experience from soup-to-nuts which will include chat. Here are some concept designs and working prototypes that we’ve put together over the last few weeks.

As usual, none of this is “final” and we have a lot more work to do here, but, we’ve been listening very carefully to all of your feedback and have incorporated much of it in this upcoming release! So, thanks for that a bunch!

A much larger area to chat!

The first big change is the fact that we’re moving a big portion of the navigation to the left of the frame. This will allow a much more dynamic and “collapsible” experience and give us the ability to maximize the available pixels on the screen for things like chat.

Bulk add? Sure.

One of the things that we heard from folks was a bit of frustration trying to add a bunch of users to a Group Chat (via copy-and-paste). Well, we’ve fixed that and it should now work! You can copy and paste a bunch of usernames and they should automatically auto-complete them so you can start a chat faster.

Better notifications!

I won’t lie: Notifications are tough to get right and there are so many (inter)dependencies when working with them.

Ultimately, we want them to be exceedingly useful for our community members and make sure they both accurately reflect the community member’s personal preferences (which we have to build out more completely in the days and months to come).

Auto join? Or not…

One of the things we quickly learned after the latest release was that folks did not like being added directly to new chats without expressed permission. So, we’ve designed a small option in the new Settings page so you can either auto-join chats or not.

What it’ll look like is this now:

2 invitations? You must be a celebrity.

If you accept one of them it’ll then look like this:

Nice. What about the other one?

That should help quite a bit! And if you’ve invited someone and are still waiting for their response, you’ll have a bit more info on that now:

You can see the “Invited” note now.

And now you’ll be able to @mention someone and they should get a new notification as well (you can’t do this in our current beta):

But, it’ll get better!

Also, we heard that some folks like to keep their list of Chats “clean” and orderly, so, we’ve now created a simple way for folks to remove “old” chats they they are no longer actively participating in:

Click that “Remove” button!

This will remove the chat in your list of chats but will not remove you from the chat itself – if someone @mentions you it’ll show up fresh from where you left off (but you’ll lose access to historical chats).

Just in case you mis-clicked…

Don’t worry, we’ll have a simple confirmation for you just in case you accidentally hit that button!

Finally, we’re having a persistent access to your Chats from the right-side of the screen in the web app. It’ll open and collapse on-click:

We think this is cool.

There’s a definite upper-bound to the number of chats we’ll show here (perhaps we’ll start with 8-10, so as to not force a scrollbar to appear).

This will be enabled for 1:1 and Group Chats!

So, there you have it! We hope that these new updates will bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to the Chat Experience and we’re so grateful for the amazing feedback that we’ve received already (keep it coming)!

Our hope is to release this new and improved experience in the next few months as well as the much-larger UI/UX refresh. Stay tuned!