Medium's Approach is MIND-BLOWING

here's how they overcame declining user engagement

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Hey there 🖐

Writing this case study took me back to 2020 when I was just getting started as a content writer. Starting as a newbie in the industry back then wasn't a piece of cake because getting work needed more work samples and polished writing. 

Without a "heck yes!" portfolio, what saved me was Medium. Because I now have published articles under my name that I can just put on my portfolio and draft impressive pitches 😉

Well, that wasn't just with me. In fact, most beginner writers built their work samples with Medium. 

Fast forward to today, after almost 3 years, from just writing to monetizing and just reading to saving, Medium has become an even better place for writers and readers. 

Let's see what Medium did to improve the user experience and overcome declining user engagement 🤔 

Top Key Takeaways for PMs [Medium]

  • Understand User Needs: Take the time to understand your users' needs, pain points, and behaviors through user research and feedback analysis. This insight will guide product decisions. 

  • Collaboration and Communication: Boost association and open communication between cross-functional teams, including product, design, and engineering. Doing so will drive innovation.

  • Measure Impact and Iterate: Define clear success metrics upfront and continuously monitor the impact of your initiatives. Use data to measure performance, identify areas for improvement, and work on your strategy. 

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The Birth of Medium

Source: Flickr

Medium is an online publishing platform founded in 2012 by Evan Williams and Biz Stone (who co-founded Twitter) to provide a space for writers, thinkers, and experts to share their ideas and stories with a global audience. 

Since its birth, Medium has become one of the most popular platforms for long-form content. The crucial periods for the application include:

2012-2015 - Launch and Early Growth
2016-2018 - Expansion and Partnerships 
2019-present - Changes in Business Model 

Did you know the name Medium is kind of a secret handshake for writers?

The founders wanted a platform for ideas that were too long for a tweet but not quite a novel. They built a "middle ground" for writers, and guess what they named it? Yep, Medium. Pretty slick, huh?

Medium's Target Audience

Medium addresses a broad audience of readers and writers interested in thought-provoking and informative content. Its target audience includes:

  • Readers: Individuals who enjoy consuming high-quality articles and exploring different perspectives on topics ranging from technology and science to culture and politics.

  • Writers: Aspiring and established authors, bloggers, journalists, and subject matter experts who want to share their knowledge, experiences, and stories with a broad worldwide audience. 

Key Features and Functionalities

Source: Better Marketing

The Medium app offers several features and functionalities designed to improve the reading and writing experience through components that no other platform has ever provided: 

  • Personalized Feed: Users can customize their feed based on their interests and preferences, allowing them to discover relevant content based on their tastes.

  • Bookmarking: Readers can save articles to read later using the bookmark feature, letting them curate a collection of favorite pieces.

  • Highlighting and Commenting: Users can highlight passages within articles and leave comments, encouraging engagement and discussions with authors and other readers.

  • Publication Subscriptions: Users can subscribe to publications and individual authors to receive updates and notifications about new content.

  • Writing Tools: Medium provides a user-friendly writing interface with formatting options, spell-check, and other tools to help authors create polished and visually appealing articles.

  • Metrics and Analytics: For writers, Medium offers insights into the performance of their articles, including views, reads, and engagement metrics, helping them understand their audience and refine their content strategy.

Overall, the Medium app serves as a platform that connects writers with their target audience, giving all the possible tools the writers and readers need. 

Problem That Medium Faced

Medium, despite its popularity and extensive content library, has been facing a challenge with declining user engagement. It means that fewer people are actively reading and interacting with articles on the platform. 

The problem is evident through metrics such as a decrease in the number of articles read, a decline in the frequency of user visits, and lower levels of interaction, such as likes, comments, and shares.

Addressing the problem of declining user engagement is essential for Medium to remain competitive, attract new users, retain existing ones, and sustain its position as a prominent platform for content creation and consumption.

Measures Taken to Dig Deep

User Feedback Analysis

To understand the challenges users faced and their preferences, Medium conducted a user feedback analysis. It involved collecting and analyzing feedback from various sources, including:

  • Surveys: Medium conducted surveys to gather direct feedback from users regarding their experiences, preferences, and pain points while using the platform.

  • User Interviews: In-depth interviews were conducted with a few users to dig deeper into their motivations, behaviors, and needs when consuming content on Medium.

  • User Reviews: Medium closely monitored user reviews and comments on app stores and social media platforms to identify recurring problems and issues raised by users.

  • Support Tickets: Feedback received through customer support tickets and inquiries provided valuable insights into specific user concerns and technical issues encountered.

Based on this analysis, Medium identified fundamental areas for improvement and developed strategies to address user feedback effectively.

Insights into User Behavior

Source: Google

Medium leveraged data analytics to gain insights into user behavior and engagement patterns on the platform. By analyzing various metrics and user interactions, such as:

  • Article Views: Tracking the number of views for individual articles to understand which topics and content formats resonate most with users.

  • Reading Time: Analyzing the average time users spend reading articles to assess their engagement levels and preferences.

  • Interaction Metrics: Monitoring metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and bookmarks to gauge user engagement and satisfaction.

  • User Journey Analysis: Mapping out user journeys within the app to identify friction points, drop-off points, and opportunities for optimization.

Medium got valuable insights into how users use the platform, interact with content, and engage with features. These insights helped decision-making processes and prioritized actions to improve the user experience and drive engagement.

Competitive Analysis

Medium conducted a competitive analysis to benchmark its performance against other content platforms and identify areas of differentiation and improvement. This involved:

  • Feature Comparison: Evaluates competing platform's features, functionalities, and user experience relative to Medium.

  • Content Quality: Evaluates the quality, relevance, and diversity of content available on competing platforms compared to Medium.

  • User Engagement Metrics: Analyzes user engagement metrics, such as active user counts, time spent on the platform, and interaction rates, to understand how Medium performs. 

  • Market Trends: Keeps up-to-date on market trends, emerging technologies, and shifts in user preferences to anticipate competitive threats and opportunities.

Through this analysis, Medium gained insights into its competitive positioning, identified areas for differentiation, and informed strategic decisions to stay ahead in the online content platforms.


Source: Medium

To address the challenge of declining user engagement, Medium has several solutions to improve the overall user experience and interaction with the platform, including:

  • Improved Personalization: Implement algorithms to deliver personalized content recommendations based on user interests, reading history, and engagement patterns.

  • Simplified User Interface: Redesign the user interface to improve usability, navigation, and accessibility, making it easier for users to discover and engage with content.

  • Community Engagement Features: Introduce features to boost community interaction, such as discussion forums, group chats, and collaborative storytelling tools.

  • Gamification Elements: Incorporate gamification elements, such as badges, rewards, and challenges, to incentivize user participation and encourage regular engagement.

  • Content Curation and Discovery: Introduce discovery features to surface high-quality content using content curation algorithms and help users find articles aligned with their interests.

  • Interactive Multimedia Content: Encourage the creation of interactive multimedia content, such as podcasts, videos, and interactive graphics, to enrich the user experience and diversify content offerings.

But Which One to Prioritize First?

To prioritize the above-proposed solutions and decide which one to focus on first for implementation, Medium used a prioritization framework based on the following criteria:

  • Impact: Assessing the impact of each solution on user engagement, retention, and satisfaction. Solutions with the highest potential for meaningful improvements in user metrics get higher priority.

  • Feasibility: Evaluating the technical feasibility and resource requirements of implementing each feature within the given time and budget. Yet, the focus remains on effective and efficient solutions. 

  • Alignment with Strategic Goals: Aligning each feature with Medium's broader strategic goals and objectives, such as improving user experience, user retention, and driving revenue growth.

  • User Feedback and Research: Considering insights from user feedback, research, and data analysis to prioritize features that address the most pressing user needs and pain points.

By applying this prioritization framework, Medium identified and prioritized the following solutions for implementation:

- Personalized Content Recommendations
- Community Discussion Forums
- Badge and Reward System
- Improved Content Discovery


After implementing the new features, Medium conducted a quantitative analysis to evaluate their impact on user engagement. It revealed the following key findings:

  • Increase in User Engagement: The implemented features improved user engagement metrics, including DAU, MAU, and time spent on the platform.

  • Improved Content Consumption: The new features resulted in higher levels of content consumption, with increased article views, reads, and bookmarking activity.

  • Improved Retention: The implemented features contributed to improved user retention rates. Users were more likely to return to the platform regularly and engage with content over time.

Hey there,

I am Reddy Mohith and I have been a part of Moonshot Media for almost a year, working on another newsletter, Adventures of India.

My expertise might raise doubt in you, but Aneesha has guided me enough to write insightful and informative posts that address you, our readers. 

Today's post mark my first step in Product Monk and I would be happy if you could leave me feedback through the poll below.

I only have a request going further, please give feedback regularly so that I can write up to your expectations. 

Reddy Mohith

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