Comment Redesign: Building (and Imitating) Real Life

With the recent release of Bronze Chicken we’ve been able to take a bit of a step back and start thinking holistically about every part of the product, from the front-end design to the fundamental architecture upon which we build.

Nothing is sacred, especially in early-stage software companies!

One of the areas that we’re taking a serious look at is the comment layer in the post and feed:

The current implementation.

At the moment our post layer and the replies is as simple as it gets:

  1. Community member can create a unique post
  2. Other community members can reply to the post

That’s about it. Functionally, there is the Original Post (or parent post) and then there are Post Replies to the post (or child post(s)). In terms of a flow, it’s simple:

The current comment / reply flow

A parent post can have an infinite amount of child posts (replies) and there isn’t any relationship between child posts. But there’s so much more we can do.

Where we want to go is where each child post can become a parent post to create an entirely new conversation thread within YEN. This will allow folks to take the conversations that they have into entirely different and independent directions, just like a typical conversation in real life.

In gist, we think effective social platforms mirror normative human behavior and product designers and developers would do well to observe and wisely imitate what already (and naturally) happens between people!

Consequently, we want to build a much more dynamic conversation layer for our users so that even more rich conversations and dialogues can be created.

A new flow might look more like this then:

The future comment / reply flow

Here’s a slightly prettier look:

If we continue to work through this logic then we can begin thinking and designing what it would look like for a much more dynamic way of handling conversations for our users. Each comment can essentially “stand on its own” as the beginning of an entirely new and independent conversation thread.

With this in mind, we can start adding even more robust features within the comment layer itself, such as the ability to allow much more rich interactions, like adding images and .gifs to comments and replies as well as emojis and other such embellishments (you can upvote some of these feature requests as well!).

We want richer conversations!

This is a significant shift in our thinking and is the next, iterative step in making our platform even better. Our first test (i.e. experiment) was to see if folks would even start conversations in our existing implementation – that hypothesis was proven to be true very quickly!

The obvious next step was to observe our community’s behavior, continue to listen to the amazing feedback that we’ve gotten, and then plan accordingly.

Implementing this new conversation experience will take a few months to design and build (patience is definitely a virtue here) but we think the investment of time and energy will be well-worth it.

And it might even present an opportunity for a design “refresh” – but, I’m getting ahead of myself now!