I have seen this thing linked several times on SSG Slack, and I clicked on it several times, but I never really understood what it is.
When I clicked on it for the 4th, 5th, ... 9th time, I don't know, I was finally curious enough to find out what this thing is. I watched the intro video on the landing page (which is super well done, really great job!) and I finally understood what ThoughtStreams actually is about. And I really like the idea behind it.
However, I felt like the onboarding could have been easier. And since I have a little bit of experience on UI/UX design, I decided create my first ThoughtStream on how ThoughtStreams could possibly be improved.
So, just as I created this ThoughtStream (will from now on call it TS) and posted my first thought, I was confused. Where do I see that I am in the stream I just created? Turns out I wasn't :D I had to click on the TS in the sidebar first to post thoughts in that stream. Ooops.
Btw, now that I am in the right place, what the hell does a child stream do? I don't know yet, but I guess I will find out.
So this stream will also be about my experience and thoughts as a first time user. Maybe someone will find that helpful :)
Ah, one thing that I might add: When I first opened TS, I didn't really get the right impression on what this was. I expected some kind of collective brainstorming, multiple people collecting thoughts on a particular topic. I guess I was wrong, which I don't really mind. I don't have any preferrence. Just wanted to bring up that it didn't exactly match my first impression.
So... back on topic. TS has alot of features! Many of them are useful, but are they exactly neccesary? It's nice that I can sort my stream ascending/descending, but do I need that feature? It adds 2 additional buttons on top. It's not that bad, but there are many little things that add up, which clutter up this site quite a bit, and feel intimidating to a new user. All this little things are not hard to undestand, but I still need to look at all of them to understand what they are, and they draw the attention away from what this site actually wants me to do: Write down my thoughts.
One of my cards is now yellow, I actually have no idea why. Maybe I will find out eventually.
On the Landing page: Latest Streams, this is pretty obvious. New Streams, sounds pretty obvious, too. But why are they displayed differently than the streams on the Latest Streams section? General thoughts, I guess this is where I posted my very first thought, when I was confused that it didn't show up in the stream I created. Do we actually need a general thoughts section? maybe it would be easier to understand for new users if it was reduced to just thought streams, and create a "General Thoughts" ThoughStream by default for every user, which is already published.
Firehose. I had no clue what this section is. Now that I clicked on it, it seems to be the latest thoughts from all users, from all streams. I might be wrong. But I don't neccesarily see the use of it. Will probably not be using this section.
Going on... What are Combined Streams? Is this a group of people sharing a stream, like i first expected how TS would work? If so, how would I create one? Do I need to invite or befriend other Users? I don't know yet.
Latest Users. Do I really need that information? I don't think I need to know when a person I don't know signs up, how many posts he has, and defintiely not the exact time and date of his last post. Some of this info, at least, could maybe be hidden in a mouseover window?
All / Favorites. This sounds pretty useful. Good Feature!
I figured out how combined streams work. You see an interesting stream topic, click on make your own stream button, and you also have a stream on the same topic, and the option to see the combined stream of everyone who has done so. That explains why so many people had a Fitness Journal stream on the latest streams section. That is a combined stream! Took me a while to understand, but it could be pretty useful I think.
By the way, there is this Media dropdown below. When I expand it, it says Your uploaded media will appear in this list. How do I upload media?
Now that I looked around, it says "to include an image on a card, drag it here". I guess that's how. But why is that information written in a different place?
Maybe the First impressions thing would be a nice idea for a combined stream.
I really like the color scheme
This is growing on me.
"Built by Eldarion with Django and Pinax and hosted on Gondor."
I am not sure how interesting/useful this information is to the average user.
"get stream as: markdown or atom"
What do I need this for? And what is atom in the first place? It sounds like something that only developers will understand or care for?
Also I don't think I need a Twitter share button. I never liked those. I do like signing up with twitter (or facebook, or google, or github or any of the other popular accounts) I am too lazy to fill out registration forms these days. So yay for having twitter signup button ;)
I feel like when I load up the "your thoughts" page, my streams should be placed more prominently, instead of general thoughts. Again, I think the focus should be more on the thought streams than the general thoughts, which make it stand out from twitter.
And since I'm talking about twitter, I like how twitter only has a single line text box that doesn't take up much space, which expands into a bigger text entry box once you click on it. Maybe that's a detail thoughtstreams could adapt in the future.
The developers must hate me by now :(
The scrollbars inside the cards look kind of ugly on windows :( Looks much better on a mac. But maybe we don't need to be able to read the entire post within the thumbnail anyway, just leave it as it is with the text fading out into white?
Finally tried out child streams. I am still not sure what that actually does, or what kind of use they have. But they do add more options, like making them top level, or making them a child of another stream. I don't really see any use for it as of yet. Maybe I need to check out other people's streams some more to see how they are put to use.
On the frontpage, the entire card for a stream should be clickable, not just the headline. Same goes for the dropdown to switch to a private group (btw, if the name of a group is too long, it messes up the header bar).
Having private groups could prove to be pretty useful. Switching seems simple enough. Do I see somewhere which thoughtstream belong to this group? Are all displayed streams part of this group and everything filtered out? I think that's it
Since my impression was that the All / Favs filter is pretty important, especially if this place gets more crowded, I feel like it should be easier to fav/follow people. Right now I have to click on a person's profile first, then click on the little star, which is easily overlooked.
I think TS might be a bit too feature filled. I am sure the developers have a good reason for every single feature they added, but it is easy to get carried away with features as you think of more and more use cases that you want to have covered. But as you put in more features, new users will feel increasingly overwhelmed when they first arrive on the website - and possibly be scared away. I felt like it took me too long until I understood everything, and am still not sure about some things (Why are cards sometimes yellow??)
I think alot of information does not need to be shown or could at least be a hidden away, maybe in a mouse hover window. Same with some of the function, maybe they could be grouped up in a single button/icon that opens a dropdown menu when clicked on. And finally some of the features could be reconsidered. Are they really neccessary. This might make TS a less powerful tool, but could potentionally help grow it's userbase.
Publishing/unpublishing. Maybe everything could be published by default. Don't even make the user think twice about what they post. It's like asking the user "are you sure you want to post what you have just written?". Do I really need this choice as a user? Do I really need to do this extra step to post something? If I really wanted to, couldn't I also create a sub for That so that noone can see it? What are those subs called anyway, the thing in the dropdown in the top left? And how do I create a new sub anyway?
Save as Draft, maybe this doesn't need a button either? Couldn't it just be autosaved until I return to the site and continue writing?
Maybe there could be some graphical element that shows the progression/chronological order to make thoughts look more like a stream
When I'm in Settings, the header bar seems to be displayed a bit messy
So combined streams is a little like trending hashtags? Maybe they could be called "Popular Topics" or something like that for better understanding
Is there any way to see who posted what in a combined stream?
Would be nice if there was a better way to get feedback on your thoughts. What's the point of sharing thoughts if noone reads them (at least you don't know if anyone does). For many people that's the motivation behind sharing their thoughts online, and I feel like TS could provide better methods to let people know people are reading your thoughts.