Twist vs Slack: The Calmer Way to Work

Our problems with Slack

Before building Twist, the Doist team used Slack. But after two years, the negative side effects were glaring. Communication was not happening asynchronously, which meant that issues and solutions discussed by teammates in Europe and Asia were already buried by the time teammates in the Americas even woke up. Plus, our team was feeling the need to be connected 24/7 in order to not miss out on an important discussion or decision.

We needed a more organized, more productive and calmer way to work. That’s why we built Twist, and have been using it exclusively for our team communication since June, 2015.

Here are a few challenges we experienced during our two years with Slack:

  • Conversations were erratic and short. Real-time chat relied on one-line-at-a-time messages and that discouraged full, thoughtful conversations.
  • Many topics got jumbled together in a channel so it was nearly impossible to keep track of a full conversation, in its original context, from beginning to end.
  • Important team knowledge — like which decisions were being made and why– got buried and lost within hours. This was unfair to our teammates in outlying time zones, or those who simply needed to log-off to get important work done.
  • Finding a conversation using search was difficult. When you searched in Slack for a keyword, you had to scroll through a long list of disorganized results to find what you were looking for.
  • The real-time nature of chat-based communication excluded anyone who wasn't there in the moment it takes place.
  • Constant notifications ate into our limited time and attention.
  • Even when we turned off notifications, the fear of missing out on something important kept pulling us back into the app.
  • Group chat instilled a culture that prioritized being online over doing challenging, thoughtful work. This slowed down our important projects.

It's not just Slack. Any synchronous, real-time chat app will drain your time — that's the nature of chat.

Introducing Twist

Twist solves the problems that come up when teams use real-time messaging apps.


Twist — Always organized and in context

In Slack, it’s impossible to go back to a full conversation. In Twist, conversations are always easily organized in threads.

The problem with Slack’s single-stream-of-consciousness channels is that they end up as conversations within conversations within conversations. It’s hard enough to pick up a discussion a few hours later, but imagine trying to get back to the discussion a few days, weeks, or even months in the future. If you weren’t there to follow the chat in real-time, it’s nearly impossible to catch up on the entire dialogue.

As a result, important information gets lost. Things get missed. It’s chaos.

Conversations in Twist are always clearly organized in topic-focused threads.

Threaded conversations make it easy to find and catch up on what happened, from start to finish. Everything stays on the record in one shared and searchable place, forever. That means you can:

  • Follow multiple conversations at once, without getting overwhelmed or losing a sense of what’s been covered.
  • Notify new people in the middle of a discussion, and they can easily get up-to-speed with the entire context of what’s going on.
  • Get an url for a whole conversation to reference it, share it, or save it for later.
  • Go back days, weeks, months, or even years later to find the information you’re looking for  — in the context of the original conversation — without having to ask around for it.

It’s a neatly organized, central source of team knowledge that builds itself.

Reclaim your attention and do meaningful work

In Slack, you have to always be online or else miss important conversations. In Twist, you can take your time to work on your projects, then come back later to catch up on your threads.

On average, Slack users spend 10 hours a day in the app, and it’s little wonder why. Chat moves quickly and if you’re not connected, you run the risk of missing out on relevant conversations. The real-time nature of the app creates a habit — and an implied expectation — of being constantly connected.

But little by little you pay the cost as you get pulled into conversation after conversation throughout the day. It’s as if people are knocking on your office door every few minutes– by the end of the day, it leaves you feeling drained, overwhelmed, and very unproductive.

With Twist, you don’t have to worry that you’re going to miss out. Conversations are organized into specific threads, meaning you can snooze your notifications, finish what you’re working on, then respond to comments in the thread on your own schedule.

Twist also features a dedicated Inbox that groups together threads that you’re involved in, so you won’t miss a thing when other teammates make updates.

Slack and real-time chat apps promote the opposite culture that clear, threaded communication builds. With Twist, there’s an implied expectation that people won’t rush into responding, but rather will take their time to answer as thoughtfully as possible.

Finally, you can snooze notifications without worrying that you’ll be left out. Go ahead and work on a project without any distractions for a couple of hours, then catch up later. Twist empowers you to do your best work rather than getting hooked into an interface that requires your constant attention.

TL,DR: What can I do with Twist?

  • Keep all your team’s communication clearly organized by topic in threads in one easily accessible, transparent place.
  • Find and catch up on full conversations without losing any of the context.
  • Focus on getting important work done and reply on your own schedule.
  • Protect your team’s attention by notifying the right people.
  • Search for topics and find the information you need without having to ask around for it.

Other things that set Twist apart from group chat apps like Slack:

  • Adjust who you notify and where to be mindful of your teammates’ attention.
  • Create groups (e.g. Design Team) to make notifying all the right people easier.
  • Access one inbox to keep track of relevant conversations and follow up when you’re ready.
  • Star important conversations and browse them in one place.
  • Threads have unique URLs so that you can easily reference, share, and save full conversations.
  • Forward emails to threads to discuss them in context with your team.
  • Use direct messages for lightweight, private communication while keeping asynchronous communication the default.
  • No “I’m online” indicator, no tricks to keep you logged in. Disconnect to focus on work and come back to your unread threads when you’re ready.
  • Twist’s Time Off status for vacation, sickness, or parental leave pauses all notifications until you return so you can fully disconnect from work.
  • Create multiple Twist workspaces with just one user account.
  • Twist is 33% more affordable than Slack (we don’t have investors to pay back).

Ready to make the jump to Twist? Make the transition easy by importing your Slack channels and users to Twist in just a few steps.

Further reading

We hope this helps you make an informed decision about which communication tool is right for your team. We’re happy to help with any questions you may have — please feel free to contact us anytime at feedback@twist.com. Have a great day!