It was not simple for me to decide to launch this blog or to continue to stay still in my corner. I had to cover a lot of things I didn't notice or be fully aware of at start - such as domain, hosting, platform or what will I actually want to write about and trust me - to write (good) stuff on the web, it's no easy task. Luckily, now, there are a lot of tools to help you get a glimpse of how blogging can impact the community, before you decide to go all the way. Today, I will talk about Medium and why it sets such a great example.
I'm not talking about psychics
Medium is a platform where people can create and share their ideas collaboratively. It's like the Twitter of Blogging (funny because it was founded by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone in August 2012). What stands out from other blogging publishing platforms is how easy you put your words online. The interface and overall "ecosystem" does a great job easing the pain. Browsing through the collections you realize how many people actually share their ideas in more than 140 characters. You didn't know you had that need of writing and sharing, until it was served to you. Kudos for that, Medium. Also, besides seeing and feeling their attention to detail, you can also read how it was made with the help of the team at Teehan+lax. It's a brilliant case study.
What does it do?
It's simple: You write a post and publish it. You can view other collections of posts and subscribe to them. If you like one, you can recommend it. Also, you can leave notes on author's posts if you have things to add/comment or you can tweet parts of certain paragraphs.
Moreover, you can share your drafts with other users and collaborate on your very own team-based article. In my opinion, this is the most awesome feature yet. Say Goodbye to guest posts.
The article design it's pretty straightforward with current trends. Medium is simple and modern: the smart use of typography and whitespace gives an elegant feel and the posts are easy to read. And to top it all, the images blur into the background as you scroll down, reminding us a bit about iOS7. Each article has an average reading time (expressed in minutes), so you can make an estimation of how long it takes to read the whole article - that's a nice finishing touch. Damn, those designers, they think of everything.
The web-editor for posting online is as simple as it can be. You don't even have to know basic HTML or CSS. It's for everyone. You have a title, a subtitle and the story (where you add text, links, images etc.). And that's it: no menu bars, no multitude of features that you will never use, basically... no noise.
As sexy as this interface can be, I prefer Squarespace's formula for adding posts. It's based on the same basic patterns, but it's more refined and fluid. Even more interesting, recently I've come across Svbtle - a new blog platform, that uses the same techniques/strategy. You can check the comparison bellow and see for yourselves.
And let's not forget about IA Writer. Honestly, I don't know who came first with this minimalism - my bet is on Squarespace - please correct me if I'm wrong.
Choose your path
You can go in any direction you want with Medium. If you want to express your thoughts and opinions, by all means, feel free to publish your concepts - be the writer. On the other hand, if you are constantly seeking resources and reading material or you are a plain old curious cat, you can subscribe to the available collections and be the reader that supports the writer by recommending him/her.
From where I'm standing, I'm that "recommender" (for writing, I use this blog); I seek and read articles that feel appealing to my interests and if I like what the author is saying, I hit that "recommend" button without hesitation. Here are some collections I follow:
It's not enough
A constructive feedback is far more better than a bucket of praises and for Medium, there is room for improvement. The "story editor" could have been a bit more flexible managing components such as images and body text. Moreover, the mobile experience is lacking in vital features like adding a post or draft and it needs serious tweaking under the hood: the navigation needs improvement and the overall experience optimized for touch. Also, I got this feeling that it doesn't motivate/encourage you to discover more articles or collections.
Practically it's a scaled down version of the original website, but stripped out of some basic needs. I understand their decision, but with a set of mobile apps, Medium can get closer in offering a complete user experience.
If I am to compare Medium with Flipboard in terms of mobile, Medium has a long road ahead of them to make me browse collections as often as I flip magazines. That's why I think a mobile app could straighten the balance.
I don't know if it's actually a bad thing due to its diversity in articles, but through Medium you tend to discover some strange articles names leading to totally different content you've expected, questioning yourself if you are subscribed to the right collection. It's a bit misleading. Just to name a few: When Your Mother Says She’s Fat or I Wanna Date You Like An Animal.
Medium is the perfect choice to start writing and expressing your opinions "out there" without the commitment of developing your own blog. If you still don't want to or you don't feel comfortable writing, then you can simply access new resources or recommend articles. It's a great tool for exploring opinions, thoughts, experiences and I just can't wait to see their mobile app.
Later-edit: They confirmed it: