A few of us in the Team Australia had a great chat this morning about the current state of Steem and specifically the UI on Steemit as well as other UIs such as busy.org (I realise there are also others).
Those that participated in the conversation where all in agreeance that there are a few missing features missing with the potential to make Steem go from good to great.
Talk about contributing to Condenser which is the current Steemit.com interface arose, but the codebase is admittedly in a bad state and definitely not something to base a newer improved platform off of.
And then someone posted a link to the Busy.org codebase on Github, and it is leaps and bounds better. Still a ReactJS application with Redux, but the code is cleaner and the way things are laid out are easier to follow.
The busy codebase would arguably be a great starting point for building a new UI for the Steem blockchain.
This is an initiative that I would happily spearhead, as an experienced developer I have the technical skill and means to start something like this, but admittedly it wouldn't be a one-man show and others would pitch-in to contribute (designers, developers, UX and so on).
Would you agree all Steem UI's are currently subpar?
Not to put down the hard work that has been put into the Steemit and Busy.org applications, but I think we can all agree to an extent that both UI's are lacking in several areas, the Steem concept is a solid idea let down by apps that aren't giving it the love that it deserves.
Both UI's (although Busy is infinitely superior to Steemit.com) smell of "designed by developer" and it's clear no actual design or UX effort has gone into any of these Steem blockchain explorer UI's. It's apparent to me (as a developer myself) that these UI's were designed by developers, not designers.
From scratch, or not from scratch
That is the question. Do you build upon an existing codebase like Busy or do you start from scratch? I am of the opinion that the proposed changes and improvements would benefit from a clean starting base, opposed to forking and improving an existing codebase.
That is not to say that existing codebases are irrelevant, the Busy codebase in particular highlights some great development best practices and ways of structuring a Steem based blockchain application.
And while it's possible that these changes could be done to the Busy codebase and contributed back in the form of a pull request, arguably these features are unlike anything currently available and might not align with the goals and vision of the Busy development team.
Besides the aforementioned UI, let's talk features. I am not too well-versed in how the Steem blockchain works, but during our Team Australia discussion, a few of us were unanimous in the following ideal features for a new Steem UI.
The current Google search sucks. It's understandable why Google search was chosen, but it is clunky and makes searching for things impossible if you're not familiar with advanced Google search input queries.
There are third-party search solutions out there such as Algolia which are more powerful and allow you to add search functionality that expands beyond just using keywords.
At the moment the way in which you browse content is an all or nothing approach. You can browse by Trending, New, Hot or Promoted, and finally browse content that appears in your own personal feed.
Imagine being able to filter out posts using different criteria? Filter by author reputation, filter by author Steem Power, filter by date added, filter by upvotes. On top of this, the biggest feature of them all: the ability to filter out resteems.
Filter out bidbot posts
There is nothing wrong with bidding bots, but some users are downright abusing them, using them for every post that they author. While this falls under the filtering category, it's a completely separate feature in that you could filter out any post in trending, new, hot or promoted that used a bidding bot.
The specifics of how this could work could get complicated, but initially, it could just be a blacklist populated from https://steembottracker.com/ with a toggle icon in the UI allowing you to remove posts that used bots from your feeds. This opens up the door to potentially showing you a true trending section where posts organically trended without bots.
Ability to blacklist/block users
This drives me absolutely nuts. I know of several high-profile Steemit users who I would love to completely blacklist, as in I see nothing appear in trending, new, hot or anywhere else whatsoever. Currently, on Steemit you can mute users, but you can't completely remove them from the UI.
Integration with Steemcleaners.org
The work that @steemcleaners are doing to clean up Steemit cannot be understated. As you know, the current flagging mechanism is flawed because a) it's not anonymous b) it opens you up to retaliation from disgruntled flagger users and c) it costs you voting power to flag.
As it currently stands the current flagging system is broken, it is designed in a way that higher reputation users cannot be affected by lower reputation users. A flag from a power user is enough to silence you and cancel out your rewards.
An important feature, in my opinion, is an integration of Steemcleaners abuse reporting service, the ability to report a post directly from the UI without needing to visit Steemcleaners.org and you could even prepopulate the fields (depending on whether it's a post, comments page or user).
A better post UI
It always struck me as ironic that a content-first platform has some of the worse writing tools surrounding it. Whether you publish on Steemit or Busy.org, the writing tools for authoring posts are subpar. To the credit of Busy.org, they do offer a toolbar and slightly nicer experience.
A new post authoring UI would offer distraction-free writing mode, a robust toolbar with formatting options, including much-needed markdown table support. And as a nice to have, a future addition could see integrating royalty free photo services like Pixabay right into the UI, allowing you to insert images without leaving the post authoring window. As well as integration with Giphy for Gifs, Youtube for videos and more.
It's all well and good to talk about an ideal Steem interface, but ultimately everyone will have different opinions on features they think are missing and improvements that can or should be made to the UI.
Any new Steem UI should be driven by as many opinions and ideas as possible, it seems fitting for a decentralised blockchain based content platform.
Do you agree that all Steem UI's are not up to scratch and that something needs to be done? What is missing? Share your thoughts.
Image credit Pixabay.