Fortunately, two platforms, Discord and Slack, are changing the game of virtual communication with promising features that cater to every user’s expectations.
If you are an employer, an employee, or even just simply an Internet user, you might often hear these two and consider what to choose as your team chat app.
So putting an end to the Slack-Discord discourse and to give you an overview, we have provided this article to compare the two, highlighting the nuances each could bring to your user experience.
Overview of the Discord App
Developed by founders James Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy, Discord was released on May 13, 2015, under Discord Inc. At the time, the Discord app was dubbed an all-in-one voice and text chat for gamers.
From their recent rebranding, however, the founders opened up the long-before potential of the app to bind various niche communities worldwide. Discord has stapled its place in the communication tools market and served true to its former tagline, “Your Place to Talk.”
Following their current catchphrase, “imagine a place,” Discord easily became a common place for people to enjoy different subcultures, may it be memes, gaming, movies, music, anime, or education, so that users can freely engage with like-minded people. It also happens to be the preferred communication tool by many professional teams.
There’s no excuse not to use Discord as it’s available on both Desktop (Windows, Mac OS, and Linux) and mobile OS platforms (Android and iOS).
Given this availability and its popularity, with over 300 million registered accounts and 140 million active users every month, it’s no wonder that the app has around 130 million USD in estimated revenue according to Forbes and a current valuation of 15 billion USD.
But media reports and Discord users alike are still torn between the app’s advantages and disadvantages.
Pros and Cons of Discord
Pros of Discord
Discord offers a variety of customization options that cover about every feature on the app. Anything you like and what you don’t like can be curated to your personal preferences.
Discord lets users create usernames that could be completely different from their identities. This is advantageous for people who want their privacy protected.
The app’s greatness is probably most credited to how developers constantly ask for feedback Discord users are encouraged to share their experiences through discussions at https://dis.gd/feedback or the discord app itself by pop-up questions/surveys that can be accessed to. This makes further improvements to the app to be done.
Cons of Discord
Using Discord can be overwhelming, especially for beginners, as the app is layer after layer of features. Its user-friendliness is down for this reason, and it would take a long to be accustomed to how the app works.
The app surely can’t control every user, and there’s always a minority who are motivated and don’t hold back in posting explicit content and constant profanity. For most servers, this can be regulated through content policing. But if you are a parent of a child who uses Discord, you should be wary of what communities your kid has joined, as there are tons of servers with little to no moderation rules.
Discord’s facade of connecting individuals anonymously actually backfires as the dark side of the app is thrived by individuals who exploit others for personal gains. It is one of the places where cases of cyberbullying, sexual harassment, and child trafficking are reported thus, it is encouraged to use the app with extreme caution.
Overview of the Slack App
Slack is another team chat app released in August 2013 under Slack Technologies LLC by founders Stewart Butterfield and Cal Henderson. It mainly promotes its purpose of easy workflow and increased productivity among professional teams by allowing collaboration to happen in a real-time manner.
Most businesses with workers, either in hybrid or remote setup, resort to Slack for team communication. Even big organizations like IBM, Amazon, Shopify, Airbnb, Paypal, and many more prefer using the app. To add, it also allows connecting slack organizations with other organizations.
However, many have used the app not only with their colleagues but also with personal connections. This, along with other app potentials, is possible because Slack lets team communication be available on both your desktop and mobile devices.
With an estimated revenue of 902 million USD and a valuation of 27 billion USD from over 10 million active accounts and almost a million organizations, Slack inevitably is still a topic of what its strengths and weaknesses.
Pros and Cons of Slack
Pros of Slack
Slack has an easy-to-use, straightforward UI that can easily navigate. It takes a non-complex understanding of how the app’s features and how teams can work together.
The app is top-notch when it comes to organization. There’s the sidebar, conversation threads for specific discussions, a feature to save a message for future use, and more. In addition, there’s also the split view allowing the different features to be viewed at once.
With the app integrations and bots, Slack easily relocates workplaces virtually and smoothly tracks tasks.
Cons of Slack
Slack’s workspace is the virtual version of an actual real-life workplace. But it is limited if you have its free plan. The free plan greatly prohibits the actual mimic of a workplace, thus losing the sense of its purpose at times. Voice and video communication in the form of video conferencing, for instance, is only limited to two people for the free plan.
Slack became more popular at the time when most businesses needed a chat app tool after deciding to transition their work online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Slack would not be for people who prefer traditional face-to-face interaction and are not a fan of working online and automating workload.
How Do Slack and Discord Compare to Each Other?
As both are communication tools, it now comes down to each technical specification and overall functionality to determine which is better for your needs.
The main concept of Discord came from its founders’ love for one thing — gaming. They saw a need for gamers to be able to communicate more effienctly and created Discord to meet those needs. That being said, Discord allows various online communities to flourish through servers that act like a virtual room for joining members.
Administrators and/or moderators create a server dedicated to a specific interest and are given customization options to set inside. Their responsibility is also to make the rules so that trolling is not possible to happen and have the power to suspend or ban violating users. A Discord account can enter a server through a private link or explore the public ones.
Slack originally was a tool solely for the founders’ company, but the commercial use potential of the app was just too significant to not give a chance. Since then, Slack has become a go-to mainly by professional teams though many still use it for personal use.
One main feature of the app is called workspace, the counterpart of the Discord server, which is also like a virtual room where members can do administrative tasks or the fun stuff. A user of the app can only enter a Slack workspace if sent with an invite link. Once in, users are called team members and can then communicate within a slack channel
A Discord can have 50 categories, 500 channels, 250 roles at most, 100 people for voice-only channels, and can handle up to 5000 members that are online at once. As far as Slack is concerned, they don’t have limits on the number of channels and number of members, just the number of messages that can be accessed and a storage limit.
A thing to note as well is that Discord lets users make an account using a single email and join up to 100 servers. While in every Slack invite, each workspace would require you to log in using email separately.
Discord and Slack each as a free plan and paid plans. Paid plans come in tiers, and there’s a big contrast between the two.
Discord has its trademark for its premium or paid features, and it’s called Discord Nitro and Discord Nitro Classic. These paid plans follow Discord pricing that is as low as $49.99 per year with 16% off or $4.99 per month and up to $99.99 per year with 16% off or $9.99 per month.
Subscribing to Nitro has benefits and more amazing features, allowing users to have animated profiles, customized emojis, server boosts, badges, bigger uploads for file sharing, and better video quality.
Slack’s paid plans start at its cheapest, Pro, which is $6.67 per person per month if billed yearly or $8 per person/month when billed monthly. The app’s next paid plan, called Business+, costs $12.50 per person/month when billed yearly or $15 per person/month when billed monthly. The last out of the bunch is called Enterprise Grid which requires contact with Slack’s Sales for the price estimate.
Those who cannot afford Discord Nitro often remain content with the app’s free version without feeling a great gap with the paying members. In contrast, Slack’s free plan doesn’t have as many features as that of Discord. Its free version has only ticked a few boxes and Slack limits users to only 10000 messages, 5GB total storage, and 10 app integrations. But with great management, this won’t be a problem within a team.
Once logged in via desktop, Discord presents users with 4 sections of the app. The far left has the list of servers and the home button. When clicked, the latter shows different sections dedicated to private connections, including the DMs and friends.
On the other hand, all the servers, when clicked, instead of direct messages, will show all the channels that can either be voice or text and the status of each, either locked or not. The last section shows the status availability of users and their roles; even bots added to the server can also be present there.
Slack can have 2-3 sections upon login. For the latter, the far left is for the workspaces you have joined, with a “plus” icon at the bottom indicating what other workspace you want to add (otherwise, it just shows the only workspace you are in). The sidebar shows the customization list (Unreads, Mentions, and reactions), channels, direct messages, and apps. Then another section where the conversation happens. You read messages from other team members, and you also type messages.
As mentioned earlier, Discord servers can be public. In discord’s interface, the compass icon at the bottom of the servers’ list allows you to discover some of the popular public servers, which oftentimes have “Verified Badge” or “Discord Partner” or both.
Though workspaces can’t be public, unlike Discord’s servers, Slack users cannot see which channels are being tagged as public or private. There’s no feeling of frustration that you are locked out of access to a certain channel. You can only communicate to the channel that the workspace admin allowed you to.
Slack’s interface shows direct messaging can be accessed immediately using its sidebar compared to Discord’s direct messaging, which needs the home button to be clicked. Though in Slack, there is no add friend feature.
Both allow conversation threads. If any of the members want to talk about a specific topic within a channel, Discord threads can be made by clicking the “Create Thread” option during the “Reply” button on Slack. This opens up another section to talk only about the matter at hand. Just the difference is threads can be archived on discord, while Slack has a threat of old messages getting deleted due to limits.
Both are also not different when it comes to their mobile versions as well which use a toggle to show the different sections on the phone screen.
Discord’s interface is a little more complex than Slack, with its UI built on the primary chat window and contacts and all the servers displayed on the left. On the right-hand side of the chat window, you can see who is currently active and online.
Discord contains two themes: bright and dark. However, you may download Discord bots that will allow you to customize the platform further with new fonts, colors, and themes.
The on-screen features of Discord are its best attribute. You can see any current voice or video chats on your servers, who’s online, and any new messages you receive on Discord’s main screen.
Slack and Discord just have about everything regarding text communication by allowing users to format text, edit a message, have multiple reactions, pin messages, and the existence of threads. Both also do not allow deleting the messages made by others but only from yourself.
Additionally, Discord can make a message be read by the computer, but Slack has the upper hand as users can schedule messages and save important ones from being viewed later.
Both platforms handle anything related to voice differently. Discord’s core of supremity is its voice communication with features such as voice channels where users can use either voice chat or jam to the same music altogether on the same channel. Like the other channel types, Discord allows users to choose whether to use just voice calls, video chats, or both.
There’s also the Krisp third-party app for echo cancellation and noise suspension during voice calls or audio calls. And even though, unlike Slack, voice messages cannot be done in-app, there are app integrations that work, or you could record the message itself through your device and upload the file to send. Push to talk as an input mode in Discord’s voice calls is also possible.
In Slack, voice calls are surely possible through DMs and channels. Unfortunately for the other voice communication features, they can’t have a voice channel or push to talk. But they are catching up with the “Huddle” feature, which works the same way as Discord voice channels allowing two people for the free plan and up to 15 participants for paid plans.
Both apps offer customization for in-app notifications and email preferences. Slack users can choose to receive or not notifications by setting up keywords or providing a schedule. Unread ones will have numbers beside channel names to indicate that new updates are available.
Discord also got options that go into specifics based on channel activity. There’s also a Text-to-Speech function that reads the notifications for you. A half-circle dot at a server’s side indicates unread updates from the channels inside.
Video calls, video messages, and screen sharing all work well on both platforms. Video calling can be accessed through direct images or channels.
Voice and video calls alike can be done with up to 25 participants in a single room for Discord, free version or not, while it’s 15 participants for paid plans in Slack. Teams using the latter rely on app integrations like Zoom to have a better video call experience, whereas Discord video calls act like Zoom itself with the view, window, and stream modes as in-call options. So Discord, above all, does it better.
Discord integrations used to be limited to those only related to elevating gaming experiences such as Spotify, Youtube, Facebook, Twitch, and more. But using Zapier, users can now make bots to integrate any app they want, leading to unlimited integrations. At this point, it also matches with the almost unlimited number of Slack integrations that can be accessed from the directory of over 2500 apps.
Both Slack and Discord users benefit from file sharing into each respective app. This can be done either by transferring files from your computer or linking your Google Drive account.
However, the free plan for both apps limits users in different ways concerning file sharing. Discord can allow unlimited file upload, but for each time, only 8Mb is allowed for non-Nitro users. Otherwise, it’s 100MB. Slack, though, can have a maximum of 1GB for each file upload; all the files are a subject 5GB of storage limit.
Discord users can access over 6000 bots libraries, all utilized to improve the management of a channel. If this is too many to explore, users can just directly look at popular discord bots that many servers use. Slack users can also access the app’s 750-bot directory by serving the same purpose and initiating automated workflow.
Text Formatting Options
Having various options to format a text, Discord users can only do so by manually typing how they want their texts to look. Slack, on the other hand, has designated formatting options making text formatting just clicks away. Mutually available on both apps are bold, italic, strikethrough, adding links, lists, and code blocks. Slack can’t underline texts compared to Discord.
Slack and Discord equally ensure personal data information protection through data encryption. As for account security, the latter encourages a strong password and linking a number for Two-Factor Authentication. Slack has 3 more methods: Two-factor authentication, OAuth with Google, SAML-based single sign-on (SSO), Slack Enterprise Key Management Add-on, and Integration with Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM).
Discord and Slack have a search bar intended for searching files. While this is useful to trace old messages, Discord got the upper hand on this one by having more search filters from the beginning of a server also compared to Slack which limits the search to the last 10k messages only.
Discord vs Slack – Which is Better?
Though indeed similar in many ways, the differences between these programs are also obvious.
Discord, by far, wins in most of the criteria above, especially its voice and video services, but the only downside is safety inside the virtual spaces is not guaranteed. But Slack’s edge is also its simplicity and organization to get the work done easier for businesses. Both tools are great for their intended purpose.
Now, whatever you think is better, only you can decide. To begin with, both apps were intended for a specific kind of audience. Slack has “business” written all over it and is mainly promoted as a team collaboration tool, while Discord is very welcoming to whoever but most gamers.