Your Content Feed is Broken

Sadly it has been since 1997.

The current state of content feeds.

On our devices where we take a more active role in controlling our Point of Acknowledgement along the feed’s timeline. As we scroll/tap/swipe we are telling our content feed what to present to us and over what period of time.

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The Point of Acknowledgement is represented by the eye.

Our Point of Acknowledgement is the moment when we (the user) understand what we are viewing and can then recall that this information has been consumed. It is a continuous moving variable that helps us track where we are in time. It’s our present state, in a content feed.

How have we made a mess of this.

Now, you have no choice but to retrace all you steps and return to the top; in hopes there are new images.

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The back and forth is exhausting and straining to any user.

This is broken. What would it feel like to read a chapter in any book, then flip back to the front, hoping to find that new chapters have shown up?

Think about watching a movie scene, then rewinding to the beginning to find the next scene.

There is a better way.

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It just feels nicer. Look at how easy that was. Even the animation was easier to produce.

First, let’s return to a linear consumption of content. It doesn’t have to be in the same direction for everyone. Up, or down, left, or right, It can be in any direction as long as we are not asking our users to return to the beginning to refresh their content feed.

Second, we will need to track our users Point of Acknowledgement. This means that we will need to retain where the user has last left our content. I know, I hear all the development implications, all the cookies, save states whining as loud as the rest of you. I know this is more work.

Just stop and consider the enormous change to our content experience. Never having to scroll up and down, up and down to check for new content. The complete removal of the “jump to top” button.

Our content feeds should be experienced as stream of information to be consumed over linear time.

What could this look like.

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One of the most important parts of this solution would be to keep track of where the user has been. Your content feed will need to know that the user has viewed up to a certain location in your feed. Then after they return, place them at the previous Point of Acknowledgement. Much like returning to a book. You return to the page and paragraph of your last visit.

One key difference in a book and the web would be that the content feed is continuous. You will eventually be so far behind, that starting where you left off will not be a good idea. Here we can improve as well. We can put the option on the user to select if they want to return to their last location, 1 day back, 1 hour back or current. There are many options to try out.

A few considerations

New user entry point.

This entry point will need to be handled per your type of content and frequency of posts.

Return user after a long absence entry point.

We could present a module. “We see you have been gone awhile, heres what happen….” or “Thanks for coming back, where would you like to return…” Many options other than random. Tell me where I am going, or where I can choose to go.

The handling of viewed content.

TL:DR

Director of Product Design & Creative Consultant

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