A concept to better organize & utilize your reading list.

As an avid Medium user, I can’t remember how much articles I have read, saved, and given claps to. I open Medium to improve my skills, discover new things, and simply to write something.

However, my habit of browsing Medium in my spare time has made my Reading List a mess.

I have 100 saved articles I (mostly) haven’t read.

I have 100 unread articles saved in my Reading List, because I needed them for future reference, or, I wanted to read them when I have time to do so. But alas, I have been hoarding too much articles that I even forgot they exist.

I mainly read about design, tech, writing, freelancing, productivity, self improvement, health, creativity, psychology, relationship, and entrepreneurship — 8 categories in total. Now, I want to sort them out, but I don’t have time to read them one by one. What do I do now?

Well, I think it’s time to create a solution to my nuisance.

Design Process

Design process used in this  .

1. Observe

Problem Assumptions

I began with some problem assumptions about the current reading list. These assumptions were made based on my initial encounter with the problems and some further exploration.

  1. Saved articles are forgotten. I often save a lot of articles to read later, but ended up forgetting about it.
  2. Articles are saved in the same Reading List, even though they don’t belong together. E.g a design/technology article will be mixed with some articles about poetry, as well as health-related articles.


Based on some online research and some discussions with my colleagues, I found 4 types of Medium user:

  1. Full time writer/blogger
  2. Knowledge specific user
  3. Company representatives (i.e someone who writes for her company’s product team)
  4. Influencers

I decided to focus on designing for “Knowledge Specific User” because all of the participants I will interview seem to fall in that type of Persona. Generally, this kind of user uses Medium to read/write about some specific knowledge — design, technology, self improvements, health, etc.

Knowledge Specific User Persona

User Scenarios

I created two scenarios where user would interact with the Reading List

1. Searching for an Article

2. Saving Articles

User Interviews

To validate the problem, I did some interviews with some colleagues and friends. We talked about their behavior in using Medium. The purpose is to understand their goals, needs, pains, and gains.

To my surprise, out of 12 participants, 4 people prefer to bookmark articles on their browser (specifically Safari, Chrome, & Mozilla browsers). The main reason they prefer to bookmark on a browser is because they often save articles from different sources, and organize them by their categories.

They often save articles from different sources, and organize them by their categories.

Here are some key takeaways collected from the user interview:

  • Reasons they open Medium: They want to feel better about themselves. They want to find articles that would be useful for their work, and articles that they think would improve their quality of life. They don’t have to read it right away — saving/bookmarking the articles works too. The main objective is to feel “productive”.
  • Reading time: Most read when they are in their commute, in the middle of office hours, in the toilet while doing number 2, and before they sleep at night.
  • Saving an article: 8 participants use Medium’s Reading List, while the other 4 prefer using browser’s bookmark.
  • Why save an article: For future references & to read later. Articles are also saved because they don’t have the time to read it at the moment — usually when they are in their commute. However, most of them admitted they rarely remember to read an article they have saved earlier.
  • Categories they read: All of them read more than 5 categories. Mostly includes design, technology, entrepreneurship, creativity, and productivity.
  • Reading platform: On mobile, 9 read using Medium app, the other 3 use mobile browser.

Usability Test

I did some usability tests with just one tasks to do. The task is to search for a particular article on their Reading List. The result:

  • User can’t search for articles (in your Reading List) in Medium iOS app. There are no search function, so they need to scroll manually.
  • All of them felt that there should be a sort/filter setting. After they failed to find a search button/bar, the participants were looking for a sort/filter function.
  • There is something weird with the dates shown in the Reading List. The dates shown in the list is different to the one shown in the article itself. Those definitely are not the date when we saved the article, because it is not shown chronologically.
Weird dates. My assumption: the ones shown in the reading list are the “last edited” date.

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