Author conducting guerilla usability tests. Photo Credit: Eric Avila

A Usability Test on (the old) Medium

Ana Mason
Ana Mason
Oct 12, 2015 · 3 min read

A study on better content discovery for Medium’s iOS App

I, Ana Mason, don’t work for or represent Medium. I’m a Product Designer who’s at @Tradecraft until the middle of December. I love Medium, use it daily, and noticed an opportunity for improvement. Using my skills, I explored how it could be done.

Please note: This study was conducted on the previous version of the iOS app.

Medium is a great content platform for readers and writers. However, I experienced limitations with Medium’s content discovery flow on iOS. I thought it would be a good learning experience to conduct a usability test and design a possible solution.


Conduct a usability test, identify pain points, synthesize discoveries and create a feature suggestion.

Usability Test

I conducted a guerilla usability test to discover problems with the app.

  • Users: New users to Medium to get the most unbiased impression of the app.
  • Location: UC Berkeley Campus.
  • How: Advertising my exchange of goods via handwritten sign.


I wrote intentionally broad tasks to help discover all the possible pain points. My script was written in such a way to insure that users would not be led into one way of accomplishing the tasks.


  1. Locate the list of people and groups that you’re following as a user.
  2. How would you go about having more red panda related articles in your Home feed?
  3. Please locate any article. After you get to an article, please share it with a friend.
  4. You want to read the top current story on Medium. How would you go about locating it?
  5. You want to recommend an article you just read. How would you do that?


After conducting the interviews, I noted all pain points for each user, then identified the biggest ones across all 7 users.

I noted all the pain points on post-its and sorted them by user.


  1. All users thought their home page was where they could find Medium’s Top Stories.
  2. All users could not easily find new tags or publications to follow.

Feature Suggestions

I decided to focus on enhancing the content discovery experience of the app. Top Stories was a good candidate to redesign into a multi-use feature.

Task Flow

I created a task flow in which I explore how my new feature idea would be integrated into the present Medium app.

Whiteboard version of the task flow.
Medium’s previous flow is in gray. My suggested solution is in blue.

Low Fidelity Wireframes

I then proceeded into sketching out my new feature idea for Medium.

Hand drawn wireframes of the suggested features.

High Fidelity Wireframes

Next were the high fidelity wireframes.

High fidelity wireframes for the new feature.


Featured would have not only the Top Stories, but also popular tags, publications and authors to discover.

There are separate screens to explore each content type, so there is plenty of room to explore.

But, as the Medium community knows, the site and apps went through a redesign.

Awesomely, Medium created a new feature for content discovery on the iOS app, which I’m delighted shares similarities with my own feature suggestion. I enjoy the redesign and how easily I can find content from new authors, new publications and new tags. Kudos to the Medium staff for all their hard work. 👍

Thanks to Faisal Al-Khalidi.

Ana Mason

Written by

Ana Mason

Product Designer. Loves tools that help tell stories. Doodles, bikes, reads.