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Substack’s redesign makes it feel like a more traditional social media app

After a tease in a blog post on Tuesday, Substack officially shared details about its redesigned app on Wednesday, which offers a new “Home” tab and some adjustments to the app’s current layout.

The biggest change is the Home tab, which is intended to help people find stuff to read by providing “entry to an exciting universe of stories, ideas, and people” on the platform. At the top, there’s a queue of big cards highlighting posts from your subscriptions that you can swipe through. (The cards remind me of Apple’s “Up Next” suggestions in its Podcasts app.) Under those cards, you’ll see a feed of Substack’s tweet-like Notes feed, and you can sort them by “Explore” (recommendations) and “Following.”

Home, inbox, chat

In a blog post, Substack argues that the queue of cards isn’t just a benefit for readers; it argues it will help writers, too. “We’ve designed this queue to boost retention for writers by prioritizing new posts from paid subscriptions, things the reader has saved, and the publications they always read,” Substack writes.

Next to the Home tab is the Inbox tab, which shows your subscriptions in chronological order. You can use swipe gestures to save or archive posts, and to help make your inbox easier to sift through, you use filters to see just saved posts and audio posts. Substack is promising that these features are “just the beginning of the power features we’ll be adding to make your inbox more customizable and navigable.”

Substack’s chat section now occupies the right-most tab, meaning that notifications have moved to a new bell icon at the top of the app. Your profile picture is now on the right side of the screen, and you can find your subscription library by tapping on that pic.

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You can see a few screenshots of the app in the below gallery.

A screenshot of Substack’s redesign.

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Image: Substack

I’ve spent a few minutes with the revised app, and it seems like a nice redesign. That said, it seems like Substack is moving away from its newsletter roots into a place with more of a focus on its feed, its app, and encouraging people to read posts directly on its platform. You know… like a social network.

But in Tuesday’s blog post, founder and CEO Chris Best argued that it differs from other platforms because the business model is set up to “serve the best version” of its users. “We win when subscribers are happy,” Best wrote. “Our business model succeeds when you spend time with the work that you value the most; the work that helps you grow and progress; the work that helps you fall deeper in love.”

He has a point. When I dip into the Substack app, I usually feel like my time is better spent than when I refresh X or Threads to get my latest dose of up-to-the-minute news. Perhaps Substack’s changes will coax me back to its app more often — at the very least, it might be easier to discover something new.

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