Fittingly, Medium founder and CEO Evan Williams shared a few details of the company’s roadmap with the crowd during the last session at Roadmap 2014. Expect a new home page (“our home page is terrible”) and a new mobile app.
Williams quickly clarified that by “terrible” he really meant that the current home page is a placeholder that doesn’t really have a special function. It sounds like Medium is going to improve the way its visitors navigate around the site with the new home page and a new navigation bar at the top of the page, and let people create content for the site with a new mobile app. Williams was careful to note, however, that Medium has actually been spending a lot of time on “something secret” that he unfortunately declined to share with the world while on stage with Gigaom founder Om Malik.
Medium has been asked time and time again whether or not it considers itself a publisher or a publishing tools company, and Williams said that in the company’s beginning days, the focus was on design: “the theory was it’s nothing if it’s not a good place to publish.” Design is a huge competitive strategy among tech publishers of the modern era, and Williams wanted to make sure Medium got that part right before growing the company. Medium is currently seeing between 17 million and 20 million monthly unique visitors come to its site, he said.
Most mobile and web companies continue to run on that industry standard definition of success: monthly active users or unique visitors. But Medium is among the growing number of publishing-oriented companies that is focusing much more on how much time its readers are spending on the site and on individual articles.
“This stuff people spent more time on feels like it matters more,” Williams said, referring to how Medium judges the success of pages on its site and features that people are using. There are a few analytics companies like Chartbeat that are hoping to encourage as a new metric for advertisers instead of the easily gamed click.
We still don’t know exactly how much content Medium will add, but Williams said something interesting about the difference between Medium and the companies that made him into a billionaire: Blogger and Twitter.
“Blogger and Twitter were about lowering the barrier (for anyone to publish to the web). With Medium in 2014, the barrier is low enough.”
Check out a video of Williams and Om wrapping up Roadmap 2014.