Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Inside Story of Reddit’s Redesign

Arielle Pardes:

People on Reddit, like people everywhere on the internet, resist even the slightest changes. Redesigns almost always elicit atavistic rage—take it from Facebook, or Snapchat, or Digg. But on a site like Reddit, with 13 years of history baked into its current design, the resistance to change is higher than usual. As one user, u/vusys, put it in a comment to the design team: “The biggest misstep is taking a revolutionary approach instead of evolutionary. I agree that current reddit is kind of ugly, but it works.”


The research from Krishna and Aradhyula helped inform a new set of design choices aimed at breaking down that perception: Now, there’s a bigger button to signal where you can create a post. Before, formatting text posts required the use of Markdown; now, there’s a WYSIWYG toolbar too. Before, you couldn’t combine text, images, and links in the same posts; now, you can roll them all into one, along with embedded movies. The new posting flow also surfaces the community guidelines of the subreddit you’re posting to, which helps new users understand the rules so they don’t accidentally get their post nuked. It’s hard to imagine a Reddit veteran caring about any of this. But for someone brand new to the site, it’s the difference between finding the confidence to make that first post or closing the tab, walking away, and never coming back.


To make that possible, the redesign introduces three ways to browse the site: “Classic view” looks the most like Reddit did before. “Compact view” helps moderators scroll through bulk content quickly. “Card view” pre-expands content like photos and posts, which makes it easier to scroll through a feed like r/pics without having to click each individual post. (It looks a lot more like Facebook or Twitter, which Perez says is intentional. “For a lot of our new users, they like it. They come from those places.”) Users can toggle between these three views at any time, offering a more customizable way to consume the content on the site. Now, there’s no single way to use Reddit. There’s no single redesign either.

Update (2018-06-12): Chris Siebenmann:

It's pretty clear to me that the old design intended people to click on the links to articles, taking you away from Reddit; you might then return back to read the Reddit comments. The new design intends for you to click on the links to the Reddit discussions; even on the individual discussion page for a link, the link itself is no more prominent than here. As it is, posts to r/golang and elsewhere are often simply on-Reddit questions or notes; with the new design, I expect that to happen more and more.

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The reddit redesign might actually be the first in my computing history that I like, or at least don't dislike.

Though, I had the misfortune of stumbling upon it on the 1st of April. I couldn't figure out if it's a cruel joke or reality.

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