I'm happy to announce that QuietWrite now officially has "responses." This is our take on commenting. I chose the word "response" because it evokes a much deeper and more reflective interaction than simply commenting.
But don't worry, I designed this feature to be as unobtrusive as possible, and you will have full control on whether people can respond to your published writings. By default, responses are turned off for all existing writings.
When responses are turn on, there are 2 new buttons at the bottom of published writings:
The first one indicates how many responses there are. Clicking on that will reveal the responses. The second button will bring you to the editor to write a new response to the writing.
The editor in response mode looks like this:
Basically, it's the familiar QuietWrite editor you know and love, except now you can use it to respond to other people's writings. Once you publish your response, it will go live on the writing's page you are responding to. You will always have the power to edit or delete your response, and also, the author of the writing you are responding to can delete your response.
The responses you are working on will show up in the Your Writings page, as a new tab under "Responses":
You can turn responses on or off for each individual writing in the "Settings" tab in the editor. Also, there is a global responses default setting in the "Account" tab under Publishing. If the global setting is set to allow responses, all new published writings will default to allow responses.
This is the first feature that lets users interact with each other directly. Please, keep your responses constructive and classy. We don't tolerate things like hate speech or other extremely hateful things at QuietWrite, and we will delete responses at will if we see this type of activity.
I am going to work on writing a set of community guidelines which I will publish shortly to address some of these things.
Please try to keep your responses on topic and relevant to the original writing. At QuietWrite, we want encourage deep and contemplative responses, just like our writings! So, please think before you respond.
If you only use QuietWrite as a private journal, nothing has changed! We carefully designed this new feature so that it won't clutter the main intent of QuiteWrite, and that is, to provide a quiet place to write online.
Happy writings (and responding)! And please, respond to this writing with your thoughts.
I just made a slight tweak to how you title your writings in the editor. Instead of clicking on a tiny title in the top lefthand corner, you will now see the title editing interface right above the main body of your writing. The title is continuously shown, so you can easily edit it at any time while you're writing.
Hopefully, this will make the title more obvious to find, and encourage more exquisite titling of your writings.
As usual, please report any bugs to email@example.com.
I spent last night fleshing out the design for commenting on QuietWrite. I think you guys are going to like it. Of course, nothing is set in stone, and I expect that I'm going to have to iterate on the design once it's actually out.
I'm going to call them "responses" instead of "comments". To me, the word response carries a deeper meaning than comment. It implies a much more thoughtful and reflective kind of interaction.
Can't wait to see how this goes.
I'm going to open up a little bit here. I'm the creator of QuietWrite, just one developer in San Francisco. It's just a side project. I built QuietWrite mostly for myself, because there really wasn't any quiet place to write your thoughts online without being bombarded.
I started QW as a private writing space, and added publishing as an afterthought. But now, it's clear to me that a community can really grow here at QW. A community based on focused writing of thoughts. Of course, QW will continue to always have a big private component, but in this post, I want to address the public side of QW.
It's not like Twitter, because most people spend more than 20 seconds on their posts.
It's a little similar to blog, but, somehow, it feels more raw.
I'm a big fan of letting the community guide the direction of the product, and slowly incorporate features that people want.
My first question to all of you is: how should we handle commenting?
Here are my thoughts: I didn't incorporate a regular commenting system because I thought it would be nice for people to focus on writing, and not really maintaining a blog. But, it's becoming clearer now that there is value in having some kind of conversation.
I am leaning towards making it a "Tumblr style" commenting system, where you comment on a writing by simply replying with your own writing. A button for a reply would take you to the edit screen with a new writing that will be specially marked as a reply.
Please respond to this with how you think it should be handled by creating a new writing and publishing it with the title "Comments on QW".
It's been a busy week, and we've got a few goodies to share with you guys. The theme for this release is all about sharing your writings.
First, we're really excited to announce that everyone now gets a profile page that displays all of their public writings. QuietWrite started off as a private writing space, but now, you can also use it as a basic blog. The difference, though, is that this blog is hooked up to the peaceful editor that you love.
Check out our profile here, and subscribe to our RSS feed. We hope this feature will encourage everyone to publish their thoughts and reflections on QuietWrite.
The second thing we just released is the ability to link your QuietWrite account to your WordPress blog. This will allow you to easily export any of your writings to your WordPress blog, whether it be on wordpress.com or on your self hosted domain.
Here's how it works. After you're done writing on QuietWrite, and you're ready to publish to your WordPress blog, simply click on the "Export" button in the top bar of the editor. If you haven't setup your blog before, you'll see a screen like this:
Enter in your credentials that you use for your blog, so that QuietWrite can publish on your behalf. You can even add multiple blogs by going to your export settings.
Then, simply click the "Publish" button next to your blog name, and your writing will automatically be exported to your WordPress blog.
We're sure that our editor will be a delightful addition to your WordPress workflow, allowing you to concentrate on fleshing out your blog posts, and then quickly exporting it to your blog.
Our goal is to become the peaceful place for people to write anything, for anywhere. That includes blog posts, books, articles, or that sci-fi novel that you've been putting off. We're slowly going to be adding useful features for you to connect your writings on QuietWrite with the places you share your writings.
For anyone that needs a quiet place to concentrate on their writing, the state of blogging interfaces is dismal. Somewhere along the way, UIs have gotten cluttered with elements that have nothing to do with writing. Garish knobs and controls surround and invade the most important space for writers: the text editor. It's like having a cluttered desk, but worse, since you cannot opt to clean this one. Every little interface element pulls for your attention, prying you away from your words.
Not convinced? Just take a look at the interfaces of the top blogging sites. In each of these screenshots, we've highlighted the text editing area of the UI.
Posterous is an interesting case. Their philosophy on making blogging simple to use is very admirable, and they've done a great job at it. Their online editor though, is still pretty cluttered. And, if you use email to send in your posts, you've still got a problem since most email editors are cluttered!
And this is Gmail's interface, if you send in posts that way:
And this is QuietWrite's interface:
Which one of these interfaces do you think you could do your best writing in? The pictures pretty much speak for themselves. For anyone looking for a clean and quiet place to write, the answer is QuietWrite.
Go ahead: try our editor. Isn't that a breathe of fresh air? Our philosophy at QuietWrite is to make UI for writing the number one priority in our product. Everything follows from that. Because, when you're using blogging software, writing absorbs most of your time. Don't you deserve an interface that is clean and gets out of your way? We think so.
Here at QuietWrite, we have a philosophy about the user signup process that we call Progressive Signup. Basically, we eschew the typical signup wall for a more gradual process over a longer period of time. As the user plays with our product, we gently prod them at certain checkpoints to give us more info. This results in a better and more natural user experience.
Think of Progressive Signup as being similar to visiting an electronics store to buy a TV. What you expect is to be able to walk into the store, peruse their selection, play around with some of their floor models, and then begin the process of deciding on the best TV for your needs. After making a decision, you walk up to the cash register and hand over your credit card and credentials to make the purchase.
Throughout all this, you didn't really have to pause to think about "signing up." You did what was natural: progress at your own pace with the goal of leaving with a TV.
Now imagine that your visit to the store were more like the traditional signup model, where you're presented a long signup form before you can do any member activities on the site. This would mean that before you could even enter the store and play with their products, you would have to hand over your credit card and fill out a long survey form with your personal information. I don't know about you, but I would probably turn around and head for another store that doesn't have such costly entrance procedures.
As we design websites, we need to keep this simple brick and mortar example in mind: don't force the user to jump through hoops just to play with your product! You have enough to worry about with just getting the word out about your new website. When a user lands on your homepage for the first time, the last thing you want is to create barriers between them and your core product. Remember, users are poised over the back button, just waiting to leave your site if it isn't compelling.
But how do you decide on the checkpoints for Progressive Signup? Bokardo has a great article about keeping user lifecycles in mind. As the user transitions from being Unaware to a Passionate user, we should gather information about the user in proportion to their passion. If the passion-to-information ratio is too low, we risk losing the user altogether.
At QuietWrite, we've sectioned off the various stages of user signup like so:
When a new user lands on the homepage, we show a big button with some quick bullet points explaining the benefits of QuietWrite. When the user clicks the big button, we immediately drop them into our editor, which is the core value of our site. No signup information is necessary to edit and save writings on QuietWrite. We cookie the user so they can still access their writings at a later time, even if they give no further information.
As soon as a new user starts writing, we show an email and password field in the header, with a quick note saying they can signup in order to ensure that they can access their writings later. After the user decides that our product is worth it, they give us their email and a password. Note that there is always a good reason for a user to give information, and we emphasize it here by saying an email and password combination is a much more reliable way to retrieve your writings than with a cookie, which can get lost.
Currently, the final stage of our user lifecycle ends with the user publishing their writing. Right now, publishing isn't the core of QuietWrite, so a user with many writings that starts publishing is using our product to the full extent. When a user publishes their first writing, we prompt them to give a display name, which will better identify them to visitors. We could have done that at step 2, but it wasn't necessary.
By partitioning the signup process like so, getting information from the user feels less like a chore, and more natural. We've seen a lot of engagement from users that would never have played with our editor if we had a big signup wall in the beginning.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when designing a Progressive Signup process on your site is to ask: what is the minimal amount of information we need from the user in order for them to progress to the next step. Many times, you'll be surprised how little you need.
Update: Luke Wroblewski also has some great thoughts on this here, with respect to Twitter's redesigned signup flow.