Comparing IM/Chat User Interfaces

So I am to design for the interface of a chatroom-like application. Then I was thinking how do the successful chat application look like. This is challenging, though we use chat app all the time, sometimes the best designs are the ones that goes un-noticable. Lets have a look.

  • iRC, Jabber, AIM

Starting from the early age of Instant Messaging, we have MiRC, ICQ, Jabber. You might think there is no UI here, but this is the UI. Messages in all three platform look like command interface with some color codes, no separation or boxes between the messages. In MiRC group chat, it has time status in the beginning then followed by user name then followed by the message. in Jabber there is only user name and followed by its message, the color codes only for user’s name, not the message. In AIM, it has names, followed by time and message.

MiRC group chat


  • Yahoo Messenger/MSN

I dunno if this is their latest UI, but I remember YM looks like this in desktop version for their personal chat. There is only user name and No timestamp, only when user sign in there is a timestamp. Still no separator or boxes, but they leave some space between the messages, so it doesn’t look too command-line-like. Picture of the user is shown in separate part of the window.

..Later I found out that you can set your chat to have timestamp if you want. But still the default setting you don’t have it. Oh and I think I remember in YM there is a “Last message received on dd/mm/yyyy hh:mm” isn’t it? Can’t find pic again.. -_-

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