Rating The New Medium Updates

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you hate me?

I know the homepage has changed a lot, and we’ll get to that.

Listen, I get it. Every tech or software company is looking to update, evolve, adapt, and get better. I bet these changes have taken hours and months of meetings, feedback, designs, engineering, devops, developers, etc. I respect that. I get it. But when changes are made, it’s the users who are most impacted, not the designers or developers.

And when the user experience is negatively impacted or make the experience MORE frustrating instead of easier, I can only hope that companies take the feedback seriously and make adjustments. That’s how you retain and attract users. There will be others, like me, who have invested a lot of time and energy into the tech or site already and these changes won’t make me quit the site — at least not yet. But it could be very difficult to retain casual users.

NOTE: As of today, October 6, 2020, Medium updated the homepage so that each story DOES list the author. Prior to October 6, the newest UX update did NOT show the author, and users were frustrated by it. Medium claimed they were trying to get readers to focus on the content and not the writer.

So — they did take some feedback already, which is good!

To start, the worst part of the update for me personally is the change to the notifications.

Notifications Changes

Previously, I would click on my notifications, a dropdown would open, and there was a small green bar on the left side of all my newest unseen notifications.

Now, there is no indicator of which notifications are new, so I am kind of guessing which ones I have not seen yet. Annoying. Rating: 6/10, I can deal with it but I don’t like it and find it less convenient than before.

Previously, when I would click on “ABC + 4 others started following you,” it would take me to a page with those followers and I could hover my mouse over the names to get additional information about them.

Now, when you click the notification, it simply gives you a popup and you cannot hover and get more info. Nope, now you have to click on each person individually and visit their page to see more. Very annoying. Rating: 1/10, the thing I am most annoyed by in the update.

Previously, when you clicked on a notification saying that someone highlighted your story or left you a private note on a story, the newly opened tab with the story would automatically take you to where the newest highlight or note was.

Now, it just opens up the story in a new tab and you have to scroll down and LOOK for where a note or highlight is. Frustrating and time-wasting. Rating: 5/10, not a useful change but not a dealbreaker.

Average rating on notification changes: 3/10.


Homepage Changes

Overall, I do not mind the homepage changes. I prefer the old homepage, but that’s just a preference. The new one doesn’t really change how I use the homepage.

I did NOT like it when they didn’t have author names on the stories, but that has been solved. Rating: 10/10, because they listened to user feedback and put a useful thing back in instead of sticking to their new idea. (0/10 for the original idea of removing names — this is a blog site. People want to know who wrote the articles. It’s why we follow specific writers in the first place.)

I don’t mind the “Latest From Following” section at all. It’s kind of nice to see that the people I follow are writing new articles. It’s a bit odd to just see a small notification flag with how many stories they’ve written and not see the actual stories, but it’s very easy and quick to just click on their face and go to their page. Rating: 8/10, I can see myself using this feature over time.

The new homepage has a decently large section near the top of currently trending stories throughout the site. I like this. These are almost all people or publications I don’t already follow, so I get to be exposed to new topics and people without it being my entire homepage or shoved down my throat. Rating: 10/10, I like seeing the trending stuff that I might not normally see because I don’t follow them.

Average rating on notification changes: 9.33/10.

Other super minor changes

There are a few other minor things that I am not rating.

The heading by the Medium logo recognizes time now and changes between things like “good morning” and “good afternoon.”

There is more white space and photos are much smaller as you scroll. This is fine. I preferred the larger pictures, but that’s just personal preference and does not actually affect how my user experience.

I know the curation rules have changed, too, which some people have noted and written about. At least for me, I don’t really pursue curation. If it happens, great, but I am not writing with an eye toward or a goal of getting curated. So, I choose not to rate those changes and will leave that to the people who know those changes better.

What are your thoughts on the new update?

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