UX Case Study of Medium — where everyone discusses UX

OVERVIEW

Timeframe

My role

Problems

USER RESEARCH

01 Online Reviews

1. Struggles with algorithm

2. Limited bookmarking features

02 User Interviews

List of saved articles
  • 7/10 did not use saving functions anymore as they found it difficult to access saved articles.
List of highlights
Home screen
  • Whereas the names of writers and thumbnail images are visually prominent on the current website, 7/10 pointed out that they barely affected their decisions.
‘Control recommendations’ hidden beneath the dropdown menu
  • While 8/10 used the saving function on Medium, 9/10 did not know that the archiving function exists.
  • 10/10 did not understand the difference between saving and archiving.
  • 9/10 did not know that they can manually control recommendation algorithms.
  • 8/10 always used PC when reading articles on Medium. 2/10 used both PC and mobile but preferred PC.
  • 8/10 answered that the number of topics they usually read articles about was less than 3 even though they set 6–10 topics as their interests.
  • For 10/10 users, what affected them the most when choosing an article to read is its head line. 9/10 thought thumbnails do not represent the actual content of articles as stock images are often used.
  • 5/10 users saved or copied the links of long articles to read later, while the other half finished reading the articles whenever they discover them.

03 Understanding Users

Personas

DESIGN PROCESS

01 Type Considerations

02 User Flow Analysis

03 Opportunities of Improvement

04 Ideate & Sketch

05 Wireframes

DESIGN OUTCOMES

01 Before Reading

“How might we help users to easily find articles they’d like to read?”

Before #1 (before update in May, 2021)
Before #2 (after update in May, 2021)

Proposed solutions

  1. Give headlines the highest level of importance.
  2. Categorize the tab of the first section based on the topics each user is following.
  3. Enable ‘read later’ feature when hovering over the thumbnails.
  4. Make ‘control recommendations’ more noticeable.
  5. Incorporate ‘continue reading’ as a CTA.

02 While Reading

“How might we provide handy features on the process of reading articles?”

Proposed solutions

  1. Make the side bar compact yet self-explanatory.
  2. Show the number of people who clapped, but anonymously.
  3. Add features for categorizing each article into different collections.
  4. Add ‘read later’ feature as a selective mark, while saving all articles to ‘collection.’

03 After Reading

“How might we prompt users to stay on Medium for a longer time?”

“How might we streamline the process of re-accessing saved articles and highlights?”

Medium explains how to distinguish saving and archiving functions, but users should be able to use them without any explanations.
Current iconography
Endless of highlighted sentences

Proposed solutions

  1. Categorize ‘More From Medium’ so that users would find more relevant articles.
  2. Keep the layout of ‘More From Medium’ consistent with the home screen to maintain cohesion, making it easier for users to skim through.
  3. Equalize the symbol of ‘do’ and ‘undo’ as ‘fill’ and ‘empty’ the icons.
  4. Group highlights into articles they belong to.
New saving and highlighting system using ‘collection’
Categorized and consistent lists of relevant articles

LESSONS LEARNED

“Dig into something you really do love but still see what you would have done differently.”–Julie Zhuo

Needs of thought-out user research.

Maintaining brand identity requires in-depth understanding and research.

Always avoid making assumptions.

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