Looking at current group messaging apps, one can see two approaches to sharing with personal groups: Groups and lists. If one takes a closer look, it becomes clear that one or the other are clearly favorable for certain group messaging use cases.
Groups Are Good For Simple Chats To Coordinate
Groups are the traditional approach, which emerged from group chats in instant messaging apps. A group is defined by one user, who invites several members to join, and then starts the chat. The group can be given a name (e.g. soccer team or saturday night dinner), and then all members can write messages in this group chat.
Groups are good for quick coordination, or for simple messaging and sharing where the members don’t change and the communication is unfrequent. Since a group has one single chat only, the disadvantages become obvious: If the topics in a group chats change, it can be very difficult to follow the conversation. Imagine the same group chat with your family, where you brother wants to coordinate a bike trip tomorrow, your mum wants to coordinate dinner for tonight, and your dad wants to share that he bought tickets for a basketball game. Basically the different conversations will get interrupted by each other, and it will not be clear, what topics the answers of the family members refer to. Or – but also not very compelling at all – each family members waits till the communication for the last topic has been finished. Any other examples like sharing moments, photos or locations which create new topics in a group chat can be equally interrupting to a previous topic.
Another critical thing could be confusing group names. If two or more friends set up a group “Friends”, because they each want to message and share with their friends, I will see several groups “Friends” in my app. From a usability point of view this takes time, and leads to miscommunication.
Lists Prevail For Group Sharing And Varying Topics
Lists arose from email and social networks (e.g. Google+). A user defines a list (e.g. family, best friends, colleagues), and then simply writes to that recipient list. There is no need for recipients to permanently join. Recipients receive the message and can then reply in a group chat. The benefits of lists are clear: For every new event that you want to coordinate, topic that you want to discuss, moment that you want to share, location that you want to post, photos that you want to exchange, etc, you can simple start a new group chat with the people you choose. Thus, you avoid overlapping conversations of different topics, that would typically happen with groups as described above.
Since group messaging apps using lists often work with posts like a social network, these apps are often better and much nicer for personal sharing with groups like family and best friends. The user sees truly personal posts, and not another message in a group chat. Besides apps with lists often have very visual feeds, where the user also needs less clicks to access content.
- Grouptime – Group Messaging and Sharing with Lists
The Future Of Group Messaging Belongs To Lists
Most messaging apps currently offer groups. Examples are WhatsApp, GroupMe, Line and WeChat.
There are not many messaging apps that work with lists. The most prominent and also one of the best group messaging apps currently available is Grouptime.
Lists need to be set up by each user (for some it might be more comfortable to only having to join a group), but overall they are probably better for group messaging and sharing. The more experienced users get with group chats, the more they will see the many limitations of traditional groups. The future probably belongs to lists.