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Jan
12
2014

The changing face of CC - Story view -- by Jon Bjarnason

In my last blog I talked about some changes I want to make this year to the basic layout on CC. Check it out if you haven't already. smiley

I got some good feedback from that blog and people were a little afraid that I might make the website less user friendly on desktops while searching for a tablet utopia. That is not my intent. I want CC to be awesome on tablets and I want it to be better on desktops as well. I want the choice between devices to be completely up to the user on their own grounds rather than CC being inherently better on one device or the other.

Anyways, today I am going to be talking about the heart of CC: The story view and the crit process. I personally think that the process of critting stories right now is pretty darn good, and I must be careful not to inadvertently make it worse while trying to make it better. Therefore I'm going into this with a little sense of apprehension.

Like I've mentioned before, the major reason for doing this is to make CC function well on mobile devices but at the same time I'm hoping the whole process will be at least somewhat better on desktops.

Removing all crit types except inline

With inline crits being around 90% of submitted crits I'm thinking of making the process simpler by just removing the other crit types altogether and having everything inline. You will still be able to submit 'classic' crits by just writing general comments and not adding any inline comments but template crits will go away completely.

I'm not sure whether to include some option of allowing writers to specify questions which people can answer template-style, maybe that's a feature I would add later on.

Removing different crit types will make the process a lot simpler for new members but it will make it impossible for people to use pre-formatted text in their stories, but we only get a very small handful of those types of stories anyway.

Another idea I'm toying with is if we're removing the different crit types, maybe we will just remove the 'crit story' option completely and allow you to start critting a story from the story page directly. That might be pretty cool, you're just reading the story and add comments as you go instead of having to scroll back up and click "critique story" to put on your crit hat. I'm not sure how people will feel about that, but maybe it would make the process more streamlined. I'm not certain this is a good idea but I might toy around with this a bit.

Reading-view-only

I've noticed that only around half the people use the reading view option to read the stories on CC but I exclusively use the reading view myself and would definitely recommend that for critting. In the spirit of simplifying the crit process and make stories better viewable on tablets I want to just get rid of the old one and use reading view exclusively. I'm hopeful that the reason only half of you are using this is just because it's not the default setting, rather than it just sucking big time.

I suspect some people don´t even know we have a reading view. Search for that link when you read your next story, it will change your life. wink

There are a few things I know I need to address, such as the loading time of reading view. It takes to damn long to parse the text into the reading view format. I'll need to optimize this and fix a few bugs in the meantime.

I also want to make some stylistic changes to the reading view, like playing around with the font, margins and justification a bit. Originally, when I first made the feature, I had wanted to allow users to select the font to use in reading view for example but I never got around to it. With the availability of web fonts the number of fonts we have available has exploded and it would be awesome to take advantage of that, which brings us to...

Customization

People spend the majority of their CC time reading and critting stories. After all, that's what the website is all about. Therefore I want to give you a lot of customization options so that you can read stories the way you want to.

I mentioned the font earlier. You will be able to choose from a palette of awesome web fonts.

I also want to give you some more options on how to read stories, with respect to background, text size, margins, etc, etc. After all, the stories are the heart of CC and we need to have that as perfect as possible. I've been playing with the kindle app on the ipad and the kindle website as a source of inspiration.

I'm hoping to make the story view good enough for you guys so that you want to cuddle up in your couch with your tablet and read or crit a couple of stories on CC.

If you really hate the idea of the reading view becoming the only way to read and crit shout out please.

What would you like to see?

Like I mentioned before, since this is the most fundimental system of CC we're talking about here I'm sure all of your have some thoughts on what you would like to see change and what features you would like to add. Maybe you think the story system is fine and you would like to focus on something else? Maybe there are some things in the story system that infuriate you and aren't being addressed here that you would like to see?

Feel free to speak your mind. smiley

Posted by Jon Bjarnason 12 Jan 2014 at 01:26
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