Of screens big and small

Today’s adjustments to Medium stories

A quote on Medium. Before today, the quote carefully laid out on a bigger screen breaks on a smaller screen. Today, a more effective transition.

Here at Medium, the editor is the heart of our product. What starts in the editor continues elsewhere, though: stories are read on gigantic desktop monitors and three-inch phones screens and exist as abbreviated teasers on the homepage, on profiles, and in emails.

As a result, when we think about the editor, we also have to think what happens after the editor — how stories look on all the different screens on which people read them. This creates two challenges:

  • Many writers use big screens, but most readers use small screens.
  • A story exists on its own page, but it also needs to be presented in shared spaces (homepage, author pages, publication pages, emails, etc.).

With today’s Medium update, we’re changing our styles to fix some problems and make it much easier for stories to look good on screens of all sizes. We’re adjusting the headline sizes, removing an option to center headlines, and limiting soft breaks to body text.

One example of the problem we want to solve can be seen above: a quote, carefully laid out on a bigger screen, that would look bad on a screen of a different size.

Here’s another example we have seen over and over again: text centered on a big screen, appearing with a lot of unexpected space on a small screen — none of this anticipated by authors, but puzzling for many readers. Removing empty paragraphs solves this problem and creates a consistent expectation of what happens with the story.

Before today, the text centered next to a photo would have a lot of unexpected space around it on a small phone. After, it behaves consistently.

The last example is a headline, looking great centered on a big screen… but appearing shifted and unintentional on a small one:

Also, the mix of centered and left-aligned headlines has made it hard for people to quickly scan and find a good read within streams of stories. As we heard from one reader, “I’ve totally skipped over posts in the feed because I didn’t realize where one ended and one began.”

In addition to the above-mentioned changes that make it easier for your story to shine no matter what kind of shining rectangle your reader finds it on, there are more changes we’re introducing today: those that aid in writing a story and helping to decorate it, and those that make it easier for it to find its audience.

Hope you enjoy them and… tell us your story today.

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