Reddit introduced the world to its new design in the April of 2016, with its first-party Android and iOS apps. At the time, it was made quite clear that the company intended to eventually bring that same UI to its website on the desktop. It’s 2018, and the time to get that design into the hands of the masses seems nigh.
In a post made on the /r/announcements subreddit, /u/hueylewisandthesnoos introduced themselves as a “
human sacrifice member of the Reddit Design Team,” to announce that the company will be rolling out the redesign (in its alpha form) to more users over the next several weeks, while still giving those who want to, the option to opt out of the experiment.
“We’ve been running surveys internally and externally,” the post notes. “We’ve conducted video conferences with first-time users, redditors on their 10th Cake Day, moderators, and lurkers. Not to mention an extremely helpful community of alpha testers. You all have shaped the way we do every part of our jobs, from brainstorming and creating designs to building features and collecting feedback.”
The Reddit Design Team intends to learn from the feedback provided by an expanded group of users with the new alpha rollout and improve the design keeping in mind the inevitable criticism.
Some of the new features expected with the new design include a new editor that doesn’t rely on markdown, infinite scroll, a dark mode, a ‘Card’ view inspired by the Reddit Enhancement Suite, along with the ‘Classic’ and ‘Compact' views, a sidebar with an in-line filter to find a subreddit, and user information cards with a few in-line options. As for moderators, tools like flair filtering, bulk mod actions, submit validation, and most importantly, an in-built style editor that enables mods with no experience in CSS to customize a subreddit.
It is perhaps fair to say that this would be the site’s biggest update yet, touching all communities when it finally rolls out. Naturally, this makes one question why Reddit even needs to go ahead with something so drastic when its design is, for the most part, working for its users. Steve Huffman (u/spez), Reddit CEO and co-founder, tried to answer that in an interview with VentureBeat in November last year:
“Reddit did not succeed because it has a shitty UI. Reddit succeeded despite having a shitty UI. Reddit is succeeding because we have great content. We have people sharing themselves, helping each other, and creating all sorts of wonderful things. That core mechanic is what makes Reddit work, and that’s not going away."
“Desktop is no longer our largest platform, Reddit is actually majority mobile now, if you include mobile web. Our native apps, released about a year and a half ago, are still a minority of our daily active users, but are nearly 50 percent of our pageviews. The engagement in our native apps is very, very high compared to every other platform. Pretty much like 3x to 5x in every dimension. And part of that is because it’s a phone — it’s always on you and always accessible — and part of that is because the UI is modern, is a lot better. But the content is the same. That’s what makes me really excited about the redesign because the content is not changing, but the appearance of it is.”
It's not clear how many users Reddit plans to involve in the expanded rollout of its redesigned alpha, or when exactly the company intends to bring it to the majority of redditors.