Experts Exchange Tricked Users Into Leaving

Experts Exchange could still be a dominant force today, but they’re not. They got greedy, they used dark patterns, and everyone got annoyed with them and migrated to a friendlier, more ethical competitor.

— Harry Brignull, “Dark Patterns: inside the interfaces designed to trick you.” August 29, 2013, Verge.com

Too clever by half, Experts Exchange got so aggressive about signup that users wouldn’t abandoned the free content available there.

They aren’t alone. The rule is simple: try hard not to gain users in a way that makes them dislike you. They won’t stick around.

Draft, the Clean & Simple Online Word Processor

Draft is a new web-based word processor. There are two primary reasons you should care: (1) It’s very, very clean and simple. (2) It allows collaboration.

Clean & Simple

Draft‘s simplicity really shines throughout, from writing to saving and exporting your work.

Writing

With the browser in full-screen mode, Draft is a pure Zen of writing experience — or as close as you can get with a web app. Nice!

Formatting is intentionally limited. You have the basics that you need: bold, italic, link, blockquote, headings, and (probably source code blocks) — and you do that, not with buttons, but with Markdown syntax.

E.g., to make a heading type:

### Heading Level 3

What Draft does, it does very well. What it doesn’t do, is also very well thought out… I like that, too.

Saving & Exporting

Saving: Draft autosaves as a good web-based word processor should. But it also lets you click a button to mark a save as a draft. So you can easily create different versions of the same document.

Exporting: Draft exports to HTML and Markdown. Click the export button, and it saves a markdown file to Dropbox, Google Docs, or your hard drive. Choose from a dropdown, and you can copy Markdown or HTML code. Easy.

Collaboration

Collaboration is straight forward. You get a URL that you can email to other contributors. They can use it to edit your document. Draft keeps track of the edits, and lets you review them.

Do You Use It?

Yes. In fact, I (Ted) am writing this post with Draft. Gusset Beard, LLC has use for Draft… maybe with you. If you’re a client who’s authoring content, expect to hear about it at some point. If we’re collaborating on something, expect to get a Draft collaboration email soon.

Social Media Widgets

I’ve experimented with quite a few social media widgets, from ones that tick updates with animation to ones that display some part of the feed, say the last three updates. I have never liked any of them! Either the look is incompatible with my site, they’re too distracting, they break too often, or there is some exotic problem. Maybe I’ll have to write one. Meanwhile, I’m just linking out to Gusset Beard’s social media accounts. If you’re reading this on the blog, you’ll see them to the right.

Two New Pages Added

Just finished version one of two new pages for this site: Content Strategy and Social Media. They describe some of Gusset Beard, LLC‘s approach to these services. Check 'em out.

If you’re interested in blogging, this is your chance to watch a site come together piece-by-piece, while I focus on client work. It’s going to go through many iterations; so check back often, watch the blog come together in slow motion, and comment with any questions you have.