13 | Changes

I don’t deal well with change.

Have I told you that?

Well anyway, I dislike changes.
It’s not that I can’t adapt.
I prefer not to.

I prefer things stay the same, the way they are, they way I’m used to.

Maybe I’m just lazy.

I just have a certain level of resistance to change that, if you really must, you have to convince me that the change is gonna be for the better.
And you don’t have much time to do that.

It’s just… can I say unfortunate? That change is the only constant in the world.

Well I do appreciate that things are always changing, and for the most part of it, for the better too.
After all we can’t just stay where we are and not progress at all.

So what changed?

The change I hope to discuss today is the change in user interface.
More specifically, the recent changes in Medium homepage (that seemed to have receive a fair amount of backlash, I guess people are just as resistant to change as I am).

As reliant on technology and the Internet as the people of the 21st century are now, we are prone to seeing numerous changes over the years. Ranging from social media to news sites to all sorts of apps we now use on a daily basis.

Facebook’s changes to the News Feed was met with criticisms initially, but people have came to accept it, albeit unwillingly.
Then they proceed to do the same for Instagram.
And people dealt with it the same way.
After all, like it or not, if you gonna keep using it, you gonna keep using it.

YouTube has changed its interface a number of times, not not every time was for the better, or at least perceived that way.

These short examples showed how that as long as the change does not interfere too much with your objectives on the site, even if it negatively affects your experience, you will come to get used to it and will continue using it as if nothing ever happened.

Outlook (on web) is one which annoyed me the most though.
The key difference from previous examples is that Outlook actually served an arguably more important function in helping me sort out my emails, as compared to entertainment and keeping up with friends and stuff like that.
And with the new interface, that functionality was severely affected and it got me really irritated for a period of time.
It’s not like their app was extremely wonderful too.

So guess which email provider I am using now?
Outlook.

You would have though that I would change my main email provider and app to gmail or something right?
In the end, I stuck with what I had been using, and had been used to, and simply trusted that they will right the ship and prove to me their changes were for the better.
I still thought that much improvements can be made to their service, but let’s leave that for another day.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, interface changes are here to stay and while they do take user feedback very seriously, it’s not like they will revert back their interface just because half the users are voicing strong opinions against it.

A change in design, or a change in anything, is not that easy to plan and implement.
And once a company has executed certain changes, they are simply going to stick with it.
From personal experiences, if most people are like me, users will simply get used to the interface if

  • the site/app still allow them to achieve their objectives
  • does not interfere too much with their experience (what is too much anyway right)
  • there are no alternatives that users are willing to try as a replacement

So what’s up with the new Medium homepage?

Sure, hampering your users’ experience isn’t the best way to go.
But seeing that

  • you can opt to revert to the old homepage through your settings, and that this is the first thing that pops up in the new homepage FAQ that is the first thing that pops up after your homepage updated, I don’t see why people are still whining about wanting the old homepage back (granted that you have to scroll down to find the “New Medium homepage” option under the “Account” sub-section of the Settings to toggle it)
  • Clicking on “MORE” on the “New from your network” section which is right on top of the page brings you to a page that is so similar to the old homepage, I think that having both this section as well as the option to revert to the old homepage is good enough to please us at least until Medium figures out a way to design the homepage to be more acceptable to everyone, or perhaps until they force us to get used to it

That being said, I have only been exposed to the new homepage for like, 15 minutes?
Did a quick search and saw that Medium members have been using it and giving feedback for two months already, and some might have been experiencing various issues.
So I truly hope that Medium will be able to fix whatever quirks that might be present (I myself found that the display becomes narrow after returning to the homepage, can be fixed by refreshing) and bring to us what they envisioned when they decided to overhaul the homepage design.

No, what’s really up with the new homepage?

I continue to trust that the team that this change will improve our experience with Medium.
However it is not that I do not have any issues with it.

While they published a post on how they curate the articles, I think that Medium, and even more for many other companies, could do with more transparency and communication to their users.
I actually already appreciate the efforts that Medium seems to be putting in to reach out to its users, to understand what we want, and to tell us what and why they are doing certain things.
After all, the reason they are doing this is that they recognized the difficulties of us having to weed out articles among the thousands and thousands of posts each day to read.

Thus they want to provide us with content that they think we want to read.
Doesn’t that sound somewhat familiar?

Just kidding.
This is not to equate Medium with a certain social media which claims to push the content we want to see most to us, I believe that the team at Medium really takes the effort to pick out the best and the most interesting articles for its users.
The way to differentiate themselves, is to give the users the power to choose for themselves what they want as well.

I can’t say for sure how to do that, or if even that is a right thing to do or what else should be done.
But I just feel the communication has to be strong between the user and Medium, both for them to know what the users want to get out of this platform, and also for the users to know what Medium is trying to do.

There were already so many different ways for us to get our curated list of reads even before this.
From people and publications and tags we follow (our interests), and previously curated topics lined up at the top and only three shown to us at each point of time on our homepage, our weekly digest which is now gone, and finally our own curated list of bookmarks, or what is now labeled as your reading list at the bottom of the homepage.

I feel like even with the new homepage, Medium still somewhat presents itself as a beautiful mess masked as a beautiful minimalistic reading/writing platform.

Being the lazy me, of course most of the time I simply scrolled and scrolled and scrolled and… on the old homepage to find articles I want to read, clicking on the topics at times, and searching using keywords if I was looking for a particular topics.
When I try to take a deeper look at how Medium works however, I realize I don’t really want to do that because partially I was already satisfied with what I was getting from my scrolling, and that looking deeper doesn’t seem to be helping me better my experience much.

With the new homepage however, I just thought that there are still issues to be ironed out, such as consistency in terms and display in order to cause less confusion among users.

Okay now what?

I have to say, I hope it’s not too late to say, I write this all based on my personal experience with Medium.
Heck I didn’t even bother to really explore the entirety of the new homepage, just barely enough for me to get a glimpse of how this is going, and not to mention the lack of research on how people are thinking about it as well.

I will be happy if you share the same thoughts as me on certain things, and will be glad if you wish to discuss or enlighten me on some others.

Having been on Medium on three years already, I am proud to have seen Medium grown from a smaller community and a vision to what it is now, the changes it has gone through (would love to be a Medium member too but $$$ so perhaps when I start having income), even if I have been only a reader and only took up the role of a writer recently.
I continue to look forward to what more Medium may bring to me and am thoroughly excited to see what Ev Williams and team will make Medium out to be in the future.

This is just my two cents worth in light of the new homepage, and let’s all continue to keep the discussions going and help Medium become what it set out to become.

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Reality is built upon the perceptions of people. gohchunaik.com

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Chun Aik

Chun Aik

Reality is built upon the perceptions of people. gohchunaik.com

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