Don't use Slack?
There’s always a discussion these days about whether or not “we should move to Slack”. I like Slack, but I totally understand that it’s a cleaned up version of IRC.
Some people tell me that it’s much better than email, “it’s quick and directly to the point”, but I think that’s just because they don’t use it as often as they use email. Once everyone is on Slack, the same problems will happen.
This article discusses a slightly different point; how Slack is failing to adopt web technologies that already known and well-adopted. Namely, accessibility. It seems that re-inventing the wheel comes with its own set of problems.
The part that caught my eye is a question that I raise far too often: why does open source software and standards have to be awful from usability point of view?
If you introduce someone who is used to apps and messaging on mobile devices to IRC though, you don't see delight but confusion on their faces. Rachel Nabors complained a lot about this in her State of Web Animation talks. IRC is very accessible, but not enjoyable to use. I am sure there are clients that do a good job at that, but most have an interface and features that only developers can appreciate and call usable.
I have been sitting on this for a long time, and now I want to say it: open and accessible doesn't beat usable and intelligent. It is something we really have to get past in the open source and web world if we want what we do to stay relevant. I'm tired of crap interfaces being considered better because they are open. I'm tired of people slagging off great tools and functionality because they aren't open. I don't like iOS, as I don't want to be locked into an ecosystem. But damn, it is pretty and I see people being very effective with it. If you want to be relevant, you got to innovate and become better. And you have to keep inventing new ways to use old technology, not complain about the problems of the closed ones.
Emphasis is mine because I couldn’t agree more. Like the author, I don’t like iOS (or MacOS), and I would never use an Apple product (never have) because they’re so closed and controlling, but I’m always the first to admit that their products are beautiful and well-designed.
This trade-off between open and usable is stupid. For the web to truly move forward, OSS developers should embrace usability and think of the end user more than they do.