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Design Brief: Write Some


(Ezekiel Smithburg) #1

Sorry, this is a monster of a brief compared to what was suggested. I wasn’t really sure how to squeeze it down much more.

Summary

The goal of this site is to provide assistance in various forms to new writers. This comes in the form of being a simple writing environment that will have additional features aimed at increasing the consistency and quality of one’s writing. I’ll use analysis of user data to try to find what these features could be. As for the simple writing environment, I want to strongly emphasize the utility of capturing ideas in any form whatsoever, and then building on those over time, which means mobile experience, as well as flows supporting/encouraging revising those ideas later will be critical.

Key Users

I suspect there will be at least two sorts of users:

  1. Those already comfortable with the writing process who want a flow similar to what I’ve conceived of for managing their writing.
  2. People who want to start writing consistently, and become much better.

Writers

I suspect they’ll be uninterested in the behavior hack bits of the site. In fact, they might be so uninterested that that might be worth separating out into a separate site that just uses APIs of this one.

As for behavior, I expect the bulk of their usage will be capturing and developing ideas. I fear I’m verging on thinking in terms of solutions, not problems, but it seems they’ll want a way to capture a few sentence (at most) seed for an idea very quickly. Also, tools that support the process of revising drafts and receiving feedback on them.

I expect they’ll expect a simple interface for writing, as well as some sort of tools for managing drafts and feedback on drafts.

New Writers

The above mostly applies to new writers too, but they’ll also want support in figuring out how to write, and encouragement in maintaining consistency.

I suspect the common behaviors will be stalling, quitting, and abstaining. By stalling I mean having the window open, focused, and actually being there, but just not writing anything at all. Stalling leads to quitting, which is just giving up (at least for now) on writing anymore, because of a belief that they don’t know what to write. Abstaining is the end result of stalling and quitting happening many times. It’s when they just don’t even load the site because, well, they don’t know what to write. It’s just going to remind them of their failures to go back. This is just my theory, of course, but it’s based on my own experience with writing, so it’s got at least some weight.

I imagine the most common characteristic for new writers will be being overcritical. This must be addressed somehow or this aspect of the app will fail.

Reviewers

Their expectation is nothing more than a presentation of the content they’ve been linked to, and an easy mechanism for providing feedback.

I know from experience with Medium that one of the behaviors is that many people will bounce at the sign in wall. They didn’t really want to give you feedback in site, necessarily, but wanted to respond to a question you asked more generaly (on twitter, or whatever), and now want the context of the original writing.

Use Cases

Writers

They’ll have an idea, capture a short version of it, go to the site later and expand upon it, and then optionally share drafts with others before expanding and revising, repeating this until publishing (which happens elsewhere).

New Writers

I’m a lot less sure here. I expect they’ll start with optimism, and unless somehow the site is supportive enough in whatever way, or they’re just intrinsically highly motivated, they’ll drop off after a few sessions. Those who stick around become regular writers.

Reviewers

They have at least two use cases, casual and out of band, and committed and in band.

The out of band use case is talking about a general writing advice question, for example on twitter, and wanting more context as the conversation goes on. These people don’t want to sign in, and probably don’t want to learn the site well enough to even add feedback without signing in.

Committed reviewers will be coming to the site with the expectation, established by conversation with the writer, that they’ll be putting a bit of work into reviewing this piece. They’ll be fine with taking some small steps to sign in and learn how to provide feedback.

Design Guidelines

  • Flexible (in terms of organization of drafts)
  • Focused/Single purpose
  • Easy/low barrier to entry (make it easy to use casually, to encourage new writers and casual reviewers)

(Kyle Fiedler) #2

I think this sentence sums up a lot of how I feel about a lot of this. This should be more problem based and centered around your main users and what problems that they are having.

In your first sentence you did a great job of summing up what the app is and who it is for. “We provide assistance to new writers.” Why? What problems do new writers face that you are going to help them with? How do these writers get better?

I think you carried on for a while because you have a lot of ideas about what you want to do. This is great but for the design and for the application you are going to want to hone in on what will make it really great.