It's the little things.

No dead ends

Buffer has a lot of nice product touches. Even though they don’t have the option to add google+ accounts right now, they are giving you the option to be notified when they do. Great example of no dead ends.

Quality over Quantity

Unlike facebook, and most sites, Medium doesn’t display a “like” count at the bottom of the article.

In fact they don’t even have a “like” action, instead you “recommend” an article.This is a great product decision for a few reasons:

  • "Recommend" is a stronger statement and better signal of quality. You might like a movie, but not actually recommend it. 
  • "Like" and "Share" are overused in tech vernacular. The words have lost meaning. "Recommend" is fresh, new. You’re conscious when you read it.


As you see above, they don’t show a recommended count. Instead, they show a max of 3 people that recommended the article. Another wise product decision that:

  • Forces you to make up your own mind about a article. You are less influenced by community signals. This is good news for new contributors to medium; it help medium seem more egalitarian, at least from the outside.
  • Focuses your attention on those 3 recommenders. You’re probably more likely to check out a recommender’s profile if only 3 are displayed vs. if 20 people are shown.
  • Sets the tone for the community. This isn’t a vanity metrics environment. It’s about writing, the process and getting your work out there.

MVP for User Feedback

Lots of marketplaces like Airbnb and Skillshare rely on user feedback to score suppliers and maintain the credibility of the marketplace, but soliciting feedback is often like pulling teeth.

Love this skillshare method: Ask the most important question first, and put it on it’s own page to encourage completion. They could go one step further (or maybe they already have), by putting this question directly in an email.

Landing on white space: Forcing a choice

I often wonder about sites like this, that have two ‘columns’ of content, neither of which are in the center of the page (imagine the image below if shifted to the left). So, the first thing you see when you land on the page is white space in between the two columns. White space? You are directing me to first see nothing? What’s the reasoning behind this?

I can hypothesize a rationale (but if you’ve read some theory on this, let me know). I’m guessing its a good and really clever design to force users to make a choice and also ensure users review their options first.

When your eye first lands on the page, it lands on whitespace, at which point, you’re forced to make a choice to look at the left content or right content, and actually, end up scanning both columns in order to decide. So maybe this is a good design if people predominantly come to your site for two different reasons and you want them to review both choices. Maybe I’m reading too much into it. The use of white space is interesting here though. 

Scroll vs Click

Observing a general, and I’d say, smart, trend:
Long scrollable homepages that provide more information as you scroll, rather requiring a click. Good examples are codeclub, the collaborativefund and kickstarter

This differs from homepages like foursquare and skillshare, where the user has to click to view more info.

Scrolling will probably feel overwhelming if the design isn’t clean, and if the homepage is too long, but done well, it’s probably a better way to get users to actually view the info you want to share with them. 

Anticipating a user’s next move: “Add to Google Calendar”

Yipee! Interestingly, the link to “Add to Google Calendar” only appears upon hovering over the date. Similarly, if you hover on the address details, a link is shown to “View map.” I’d be curious to watch users in action to see if most discover this or miss it, but in any case, a great example of anticipating a user’s next need. Love it when sites think ahead like this and serve users’ total needs, even if that means redirecting users outside their site.

How awesome would it be if you could add a facebook event to your google calendar from within facebook? Never going to happen, I know, but it should. 

(From Skillshare)

Multi-format date entry

Flow, a task management software, has this delightful date interface: 

You tab over to add a due date to a task, and boom, exactly what you want to see, a calendar pops up. Then, you can enter any date like 26 and it will automatically select that date of this month. No mouse work required.

Even more fantastic: the form accepts multiple formats of a date. You can type “tomorrow” or “2 weeks” or “Oct 10” and it will figure out the date for you.

Airlines, please take note!