I started my Medium to store ideas as some sort of portfolio and recently completed a year. I’ve really enjoyed Medium and I’ve been suggesting it in my circles. That said, Medium still has room for improvement. In between, I wrote about what I thought Medium lacked in terms of statistics. Today, I’ll talk about some general functions that I’d love to see being added in, hopefully, 2019.
There are several topics regarding this and I won’t get into much detail because it’s a bit messy to talk about it over text. But I’ll try to touch a few points.
I’ll start with publications. I’ve started several of them and each time I was at least a bit confused with the UI to edit the homepage. I discovered some functions later and there is actually good functionality. Maybe it was expecting something as simple and intuitive as regular functions and facing something more complex, maybe carelessness; but I feel like it’s not on me 100%.
For example, There is an avatar and logo in the first page when you create a publication. Naming starts the confusion. Avatar is basically an icon, expected at 60x60px then there is a logo, which also you expect to be small, but must be 600px wide at least. It does explain where it will be used, so that helps.
Then you go edit your homepage and you can display logo on the header. However, the logo is now a new picture you can upload and does not have the same specifications as the logo you just uploaded a minute ago. So… which one is the logo? And then, you choose a background picture for the header, which is also supposed to be wide but it’s not the initial logo, it’s yet another picture. I’m still not sure 100% what is used where.
Also, from what I see, the header text is displayed bare, meaning it can easily be lost in the background and there is no option to add shadows or outer glows or even a text background color to create contrast. There is also a color option that only works if you haven’t selected a background image (I think) and I’m still not sure what “subtle” color means as it only makes the background white on my screen.
When it comes to editing of the feed, the options are pretty cool. It takes a minute to experiment but there is a lot of functionality in such a small controller space. I applaud the UI designers.
Another small thing is the specification of assets being missing for the featured images of regular articles (I figured it works when I google for “medium” images but I’ve no clue what counts as big enough).
There are a few more things and I’m sure everyone will have a different priority but in conclusion, there is room for improvement in various aspects.
Categories for Writers
I write a variety of things: I write about my ideas on games, I write about new game ideas, new story/setting ideas, I write short stories, I write about existing or generic worlds, I write about systems and the occasional game review. For a follower who enjoys only some of them, it’s messy to follow.
Sure, the tags are nice, but they’re too limited. I would have really liked a category function which could be an extension to the tags where something like https://medium.com/@ekrematamer/tag/design would list all the articles by me that has the design tag.
Another idea would be to separate categories from tags, allowing you to create internal categories. This would do two things. First, free you for tags. I mean, internally “generic world” would make sense, but I’m not sure if I want to spend one of my 5 precious labels on that. Second, it would help you communicate with your followers better and improve your structuring, which leads to better bouncing (which is good for all parties.) For example, I used to write things on lunch (like this article) that I called “Lunch Practice.” If I write this in the title, it can get too long. For a tag, it doesn’t mean anything for the entirety of Medium. No one would search that. However, it would’ve been a nice category for me and my followers to know that those articles were written in a limited amount of time.
What I do now is publications. This worked well for Subnautica Ideas as it was a very clear concept. But for example, Pilgrims of Warcraft and Azerothian Archives have some overlapping. As articles are exclusive to publications, I can’t structure this way. I’m thinking on ways to solve this. I think what I will do is manually create some index pages and manually update them in time, which is far from ideal.
I like Medium main page. Many cool articles to choose from. Until it’s that time of the month when I’m out of free articles. Then I can’t read 90% of the main page because they are all paid articles. I have doubts about Medium’s business model (and I’m not the only one,) but I accepted it but not being able to filter out paid articles is annoying. Now, Medium is not a non-profit website and as someone who does digital sales, I do know that sometimes you give people the incentive to do the buying. However, in my opinion, this doesn’t apply to Medium.
First of all, this is reading. Obviously I have no metrics but I don’t see the “impulse buying” tactics working super well with reading. I feel like people buying Medium subscription are people who read enough each month or interested in the other features as well.
Second, there are ways around it. I don’t want to link them but a simple search reveals several methods ranging from fiddling with your cookie settings to browser extensions. So what happens is that the people who don’t do these get punished.
Third, Medium isn’t really helping you there. It starts by pushing the paid articles in your face. You don’t even have to read them fully, as far as I know. You open an article, check it the first paragraphs, don’t like it, close it… but you already used one of your 5 chances. Then there is no indicator anywhere on how many you have left. So basically Medium kinda plays with you to go over your limit. You know what this made me do? Not read. I go each day to my feed, see all the articles that are paid, NOT click them because I want to save my 5 chances… and probably end up reading nothing monthly because I don’t remember how many chances I’ve left. What if I see something I really wanna read at the end of month? And this whole tiptoeing around just pushed me from Medium.
Obviously some of this is the business model and if you aren’t paying, you get some uncomfortable times. That, I accept. But I think an option to filter out paid articles would be good. Also, an option to favorite writers that their articles are always on top.
Another idea is to learn from Spotify. You have automatically generated lists that find articles similar to your liking or completely not in your domain and you can access these any time with a button. Emails are nice but more options in the feed would be great because opening my feed is when I actually read, not when I’m checking my emails.
As mentioned, I really like Medium and I will continue using it. I hope we’ll see more functionality improvements this year, including my wishlist above. Happy Mediuming!