Creating a Personalized Reading Experience on Medium

Everything you should read—in one place

Pete Davies
Sep 25, 2013 · Unlisted

As Medium grows, so does our opportunity to match content to readers. You and I (and every other Medium reader) have different reading interests and preferences, so it makes sense that Medium should offer each of us different things to read. That’s why we’ve launched a new personalized homepage, where you can customize your list of posts. You should see yours when you log in to Medium.

For the last six months we’ve been trying various forms of a generic homepage, sometimes curated by our editorial team, sometimes assembled by an algorithm. But a single homepage (which looks the same for every user) has never been the plan for the longer term. Optimizing a page for everybody can only end up with something that suits the lowest common denominator — clearly the opposite of Medium’s mission.

The generic Medium homepage, currently shown to logged out users.

We’ve also tried to move away from recency as the primary determinant in ranking content. Our current generic homepage (seen by logged out users) does still include a heavy bias for posts published in the last few days: it’s the only way to know that we’re showing you things you’re likely not to have read before.

But once you have logged in, we know a lot more. We not only know what posts you’ve read (and can therefore exclude those posts from your feed), but for the first time, we will let users personalize the reading experience themselves. We use information from your own usage of Medium (posts that you’ve viewed, read, and recommended) to build a list of posts specifically for you.

The new homepage lists the best posts from collections that you’re following and other sources.

The posts that appear on the list are the best ones that you haven’t yet read, drawn from a number of different sources: collections that you’re following, Further Reading, Bookmarks, Trending, and Latest.

Following collections

The Follow button appears on every collection page. Click it to get the best posts from that collection on your homepage.

We’ll make it easier to follow collections from posts and other parts of Medium in the near future.

Following on Medium is a little different from what you might be used to. We want to give you the opportunity to read the best posts that you haven’t yet read. Thanks to our notification-centric, feed-refreshing social networks, content distribution on the internet is heavily biased towards the latest news and the just-published.

Our goals are different: we want to give you great stuff to read. We have tens of thousands of great pieces already written on Medium, and the vast majority of them are just as relevant today as the day they were written. In some cases, a few months may even have made them better.

Anyway, reading the news doesn’t make us any smarter.

If you’re looking for some good collections to follow, check out our page of Featured Collections. When you find a post on Medium that you like, you can also check out the other collections that it’s been posted in (look at the bottom of the post for the list). Follow them so that you can read similar posts in the future.

All users follow Editor’s Picks automatically, but, if you prefer, you can unfollow that collection.

Further Reading

Further Reading on Josh Elman’s post “A Product Manager’s Job.”

Users can suggest links for Further Reading at the bottom of a post. These links can help readers learn more about a topic, understand opposing views, and find other information related to the post.

When you click “Recommend” on a post, posts that are suggested links as Further Reading can show up on your homepage.


Trending and Latest

  • Trending posts are a mix of the most viewed and most recommended posts on Medium at any given time, similar to the previous homepage.
  • Latest posts are a bit more experimental: unfiltered, just published, posts that have only just seen the light of day. We want to try to give newly published content an opportunity to find a readership.

Still to come

Medium is for writing and reading

As a reader, you’ll get to read the best, most interesting and relevant content on the platform, regardless of when it was written.

As a writer, you’ll write with the knowledge that we’re focused on finding the right audience for your content — not just when it’s first published, but every day thereafter.

If we get this right, we can do something that no other platform has done: build a great internal distribution system that matches any piece of content with its optimal audience.

Next up

Thanks to Kate Lee and Ev Williams


    Pete Davies

    Written by

    Building new things @gethudson. Previously @Medium, @Automattic, @BBCNews.

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