Medium - A New Hope
“Your daily news reimagined, straight from the people who are making and living it. Discover and follow your favorite writers and the stories that matter to you, every day.” -medium.com
In the game of digital publishing, Medium is a unique player. It’s the illegitimate child of blogging and publishing that was raised by social media. It promises to be “a network of thought. Connecting people together increases their knowledge and capabilities. Connecting ideas together increases their value, as well” (Ev Williams, Founder of Medium).
It was created in 2012 by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams as a way for users to publish more than the allotted 140 characters. Much like twitter though, with Medium, anyone can publish. From the kid next door to high profile journalists, Medium is an ad free environment for individuals from all walks to author, collaborate, and express ideas.
It has taken the complexity out of blogging, while adding to the community. Posts you publish can be viewed by the general public and those interested in what you have to say. Rather than a string of comments at the end of a document, conversations are more relevant and have anchored locations inside the text of the article.
Medium isn’t just the next wordpress blogging system. Medium Publications allows for organizations and publishers to produce quality content to millions of readers. These publications can assign domain names, create custom landing pages, and curate content from their writers to give to their readers.
So how does it work?
Like and good social networking site, Medium will ask you to create a profile. That being said, you can read all you want without one. It is only if you want to write or follow writers that you would need an account. Once you account is up you are ready to write! Their tools are simple and easy to use. While it may seem rigid and limited in the layout options they provide they do offer a clean interface with no distractions as you write. They offer quick formatting of text and images in a WYSIWYG editor, but, there are more options available to advanced users. You have to read their documentation to know about setting featured images, image grids, image sizes, lists, and more. It will auto save drafts, publish to multiple publications, and share to social media.
Accessing and writing your content has also never been more available. Medium has apps for android and IOS that have reading, writing, and publishing capabilities. However, these apps do not have the same functionality as desktop or laptops with in-browser editing have. Lappys and deskys have a slew of keyboard shortcuts to help writers streamline the formatting and layout process (found here) and options for layout of images. The mobile platforms allow for some advanced text formatting (bullets, captions, ect.) but do not allow for picture placement options. This might be because all images viewed in the app are set at 100% width even if that isn’t how it is set on larger screens.
A few suggestions
While I like medium as a platform for content I feel there are a few things they could implement to take it to the next level. The first is integration and delivery. Other than sharing on social media everything that happens in Medium, stays in Medium. If they could partner with a content delivery system like Flipboard, Facebook Instant Articles, or even a news aggregation app like Apple News, Medium for Publishers could really become a powerful content distributor.
My second suggestion would be a some kind of walkthrough for new writers. By using progressive reduction to educate those new writing in Medium, they could have writers creating more custom content than is available through the minimalist interface without cluttering it up.
That being said I feel that Medium is a valuable platform and while I think anyone can use it, not everyone should. For it to continue to be a relevant player in digital publishing it cannot afford to be bogged down by inferior or sub-par content. Good writers writing with good content make Medium… well… good.