When building ideas together in a team environment you need reliable means of communication. All members of the team share their ideas while keeping everyone on the same page. This is easier when working together in the same physical office space. But what about communicating remotely or working with freelancers around the world?
In this post, I want to present 10 of the best tools for managing a chat system, for both one-on-one and a team chat. There are plenty of free products in the list and even a few paid ones that can offer more than just instant messaging.
However, each communication tool is different and you need to read on to find the one that will best fit your needs. Let’s take a look.
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For the past few years, Slack has been the rising-star for a team chat application, especially for companies with remote working cultures. Very much inspired by the IRCQ in which it groups chat by channels, and you can also have private channels.
Slack allows you to share files and embed photos or other types of media through any of the applications for web, mobile, or desktop computers. On top of that, you can integrate Slack with external applications such as Google Calendar, Gmail, Jira, Github and Gitlab, and many more.
Slack comes with a Free tier plan with some limited features but should be sufficient for most small or starter organizations. If you need it premium features such as Group calls with screen sharing, unlimited apps, and guest accounts and shared channels, you can get it’s paid option with $8/user/month.
Among many other projects online, Basecamp has been an excellent choice for Internet-based companies. Basecamp service allows managers to assign tasks, group notes, file downloads, as well as group chat. It is a powerful way to organize any project online with any number of people.
With Basecamp, you break up your work into separate projects. Each project contains everything related to the work at hand; all the people involved, every discussion, every document, file, task, important date, etc.
Zoom is a popular choice to hold a video meeting or conference. It’s known for its reliability compared to other platforms and makes it super easy to join a meeting.
Instead of creating a Zoom account or jump through several steps to participate in the video conference, the invitee can click the link provided in the invitation and specify their name, and they are all set. They can join from the website or desktop app.
During the pandemic of COVID-19, Zoom has played an important role in providing facilities for many people to work from home. Many students and teachers using it for homeschooling, and many companies using it to get connected with their employees working from home for the first time.
Google Meet is an easy way to have conversations with a single person or group of people. While Google Hangouts and other Google chat products can host only up to 25 people within a single chat group, Google Meet is designated for businesses and thus allows you to host as many people as needed.
It works quite similar to Zoom; you can invite users within the GSuite account or send invitations to outsiders with a secret meeting ID to join the meeting. It is provided as part of GSuite product, so no free tier is available for Google Meet, unfortunately.
As the name implies, Microsoft Teams is a chat and collaboration platform from Microsoft designed for all kinds of groups. As part of Microsoft lineups, Microsoft Teams is connected to other products, including Office 365.
Microsoft Teams provide a free tier plan with very generous features. The free plan can already have a group chat and tool with unlimited chat messages, guest access, video, and audio calls, and access to the web version of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Rocket.Chat is an open-source team chat software. It’s free, without any restrictive features. You can use audio and video conferencing, invite a person with guest access, screen, and file sharing, set up two-factor authentication (2FA), E2E encryption, SSO with dozens of OAuth providers.
Rocket.Chat provides quite extensive guide on how to deploy Rocket.Chat in various own servers and environments such as Ubuntu, RedHat, Docker, AWS, and DigitalOcean.
This is a perfect software for those who need full control of the chat application and, most importantly, the data. But if you prefer not going with the hassle on setting your servers, Rocket.Chat also provides a cloud hosting service starting from $2/user/month.
Another open-source chat application worth looking into is MatterMost. Dubbed as the Slack alternative, MatterMost brings many features for seamless group communication.
You can organize conversations in teams and channels, a full search of the chat history (in Slack this feature is restrictive in their free Tier plan), you can also do VOIP, video, and screen sharing, share a file, image, and link sharing.
Being an open-source application, it provides you with full access to the source and thus offers greater customizability. You can, for example, customize the brand on the login page, or white-labeling mobile apps.
MatterMost is available through mobile and desktop applications; your end-users can chat and collaborate whether they are on Window, Linux, macOS, or Android or iOS.
Chanty is a chat application powered with AI and machine learning, so it can help you deliver the most important and relevant for you to catch up with conversations.
It provides a very generous free tier plan, which makes it a perfect chat application for start-up or business on a budget. With the free plan, Chanty allows you to have unlimited public and private conversations, a fully searchable history, built-in task management, and up to 10 users within the organization.
Another neat solution named Podio is not only for chat. It is a full backend management suite for projects that need to handle multiple users. Their signup is free under five team members, and you can try out a large number of their applications using this free account. These apps include to-do tasks, calendars, and of course, chatrooms.
It is very easy to signup with direct connect OAuth using Google, Facebook, even Windows Live. The free account allows you to try out all of their applications to see if it could work for your company. It is free to signup and try out, so you don’t have much to lose!
Flock is a chat and collaboration application that can help you improve productivity and efficiency in communication within your team to discuss important projects and get the work done.
You can initiate conversation in channels, send a direct message or a company-wide announcement, and even manage a mailing list. On top of that, Flock also has the "To-do" app built-in so you can manage your To-dos in one place and even turn a conversation into a To-do, which I think is a pretty cool feature.
Flock comes with a free plan that allows you to host unlimited 1-on-1 and group messages, and video calls, and up to 10 public channels.