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I was looking for answer through whole internet but didn't find any logical solution. Basically, I'm designing something related with chat app and my main problem is, which messages alignment should I use. I noticed that Slack uses left-aligned messages for both users. However Messenger or Whatsapp prefers versus-aligned messages. Is there any UX explanation for both approaches?

Thank you

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  • When I am talking to someone they are in front of me, not to my left. Written English reads from left to right, and from up to down. It is never acceptable to push some of the words to the right for the sake of cuteness or cleverness. It just plain makes it more difficult to read for no good reason. If someone thinks it's cute and wants to offer it as an option, let it be offered as an option, but nobody should be forced to submit to someone else's cuteness quest. Oct 13, 2023 at 16:30

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Mimicking real-world interactions

I believe the reasoning behind having versus aligned in WhatsApp, Messenger, and many other chat applications might be an attempt to mimic how people in the real world face each other when engaging in a conversation.

The case of Slack being only left-aligned might be that it primarily started as a web application that's used on PCs. Versus aligned doesn't work on desktop landscape layouts as it's too wide.

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Consider 1:1 vs Group Messaging

When my team worked on the left vs staggered approach to message bubble alignment we did some internal A/B tests to see which performed better and the majority of people found a staggered approach easier to interpret.

Also I think it gives clear separation between yours vs theirs, but this alone wasn't enough to differentiate, so we included alternate colours for the messages, this also helped visually identify who was who.

Consider 1:1 conversations for example this may work well, but for group messaging we aligned all other parties to one side and 'you' to the other.

Slack have these all to the left side and the one colour approach which still works great, however I find this approach takes extra concentration from the user to identify conversation origins.

Slack also try to overcome this via avatars and bold usernames with chunking of messages delivered without reply.

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  • Well, in my project there will be possibility to chat both 1:1 as well as in group. I think I will follow left-aligned approach because it should be easier for users to scan and read messages in column from top to bottom, than jumping from left to right and back. As long as it wouldn't be that bad on mobile, on desktop it could be problematic
    – 45human
    May 7, 2021 at 22:07

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