Advocating Change to Improve User Experience

A few observations upon returning to Medium

I’ve recently returned to Medium under a different pseudonym and a new logo. My previous stint was a quickly abandoned attempt at writing consistently.

So, when Stephen M. Tomic recently messaged me about contributing to his fledgling publication, The Junction, I had some familiarity with the site, even though I wasn’t much of an active user.

The quantity of stories on Medium is staggering. I didn’t spend a lot of time exploring the nooks and crannies my first time around. But this time, I quickly recognized and appreciated the community being built, brick by brick, story by story. Medium has become a place to find kindred voices and impassioned readers.

If a writer gets my attention, I’m happy to see them in my feed. The beauty of such an open forum is the diversity of genres and styles a writer can discover.

But for a reader, scrolling takes away from actual reading time. In other words, the enjoyable part, the experience of a great read, is a smaller portion of the aggregate than it rightly should be.

I’ve been frustrated by the lack of fiction (my main area of work and interest) in my feed. Unfortunately, the problem isn’t that straightforward. The underlying issue is in being able to quickly identify what’s in front of my eyes.

To a certain degree, Medium has left its readers to waste time rummaging through a bottomless bin of unlabeled tin cans — nearly any can might be something you’d like, but it might not be something you’re in the mood for. I don’t want to begrudgingly eat the (quite possibly fantastic) chicken tortilla soup when I just had a craving for some cream of mushroom.

We need something universal.

I propose giving writers the option to add a genre icon to accompany the title of their story. It would give a reader a way to quickly know if they were dealing with a piece of poetry, a satire, or an essay.

The tags, while great for general searching, don’t appear anywhere other than the bottom of the piece. That means a reader has to load each and every story and spend precious seconds scrolling to the bottom.

As a reader, I want the ability to easily discern and segregate stories. I want filters to show me exactly what I want to see right now or everything under the sun.

I want to easily access the publications I write for — as it stands, Medium tells me I’m following The Junction, but it is not listed under the publications I follow. You follow?

To paraphrase Aladdin, where’s my phenomenal cosmic power?

To that end, as a writer, why can’t I publish to a publication while in the app? As it stands, once I finish this piece in my phone, I’ll need to get my kids to co-operate long enough to get on my laptop in order to access the “full version” so you can see it here. The app needs to be expanded to meet this simple task.

After all, we’re writers with a life, doing it live, often while on the run. We’re also readers who want to have the power to navigate our story feeds with a laser focus to find what we want, when we want it. Here’s my plea and demand: Step it up Medium. Less logo, more go-go.

P.S. Why do I have to “publish” a response? Let me keep my “published” work professional and my comments conversational.

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