Today let's talk about some Reddit Android app changes (but also celebrate that things do get changed!). There's some interesting design decisions in here today. Let's just say I am now aware of r/redditmobile and r/changelog, two subreddits I really shouldn't ever need to know about.
The long press to collapse comments
This is why I found r/redditmobile. I thought I might be alone in disliking this change, I wasn't.
In my interaction with Reddit, the action I perform the most is the comment collapse. I've done it forever on the desktop website rather than scroll a page, and I have carried that behavior to the mobile app. The long press change has highlighted just how right the original (short press) function got it for me - I had never thought about the process.
However I also had never visited r/redditmobile, where apparently a lot of users were unhappy. There was an intended outcome the team were driving for - making it harder to miss a tap on a link and accidentally collapse the comment containing it instead.
If we could assess whether the outcome was a positive one for us nimble comment collapsers, this exchange between Redditor and community manager might some it up:
Q "Why did they remove easy thread collapsing?"
A "It is still somewhat easy [...]"
First here's some untested assumptions:
- Regular users read comments quickly. Really quickly. The Reddit app works because it's lets you explore content quickly, often in moments when you don't have a lot of time.
- Regular users dismiss comments they don't need really quickly too, and want to move on as fast as possible. Sometimes there will be 3 or 4 comments in a row you'll want to collapse in search of one which covers your question, or has other relevance to you.
Now the side effects of the new intended outcome:
- Time - if you increase the time it takes to dismiss a comment from 0 seconds to ~1 second, you are adding a significant overhead to the time a user has to spend on a thread. When on mobile I might read a thread for 20 seconds. If I collapse 10 comments this thread takes 50% longer to read now.
- Failure feedback - sometimes you may slip when you begin the press. Because it's now a long press, you wont realise the gesture is going to fail until your estimate of the dismissal time has expired (your estimate will be longer than 1 second to be certain). This is not fun, and there's no easy feedback solution to this.
- Discovery - because it's a long press and you have no onboarding tutorial for the feature, people won't discover it. This has been evidenced by people coming to r/redditmobile asking why collapsing isn't working, or to confirm an intended change was made, and that's users that knew it was a feature.
As trivial as all this might sound, it's a legitimate deal-breaker for me. It makes the whole UX feel so much slower and more cumbersome to me.