Update: Thanks for all the feedback! Just wrote a post about how we’re updating our plans/thoughts based on your comments.
I hate software that encourages fiddling. Presentation software is probably the worst offender. The format has few constraints, and by default it usually looks terrible, so you end up fiddling with the layout more than thinking about the content. That’s the opposite of software that encourages deep thinking.
I don’t want Workflowy to be fiddly software. As we work on adding colors, there’s a tension between letting people make it look the way they want and encouraging people to fiddle. I want to get your opinion on how fiddly we should make Workflowy.
Let me outline the two general directions for you and hear what people think.
Direction 1: Lots of styles
One direction would be to let people define lots of different options for adding colors to workflowy. Give them granular control over not only the color, but where and how it is applied. This was my instinct when I started to think about colors in Workflowy.
Many ways to style
Here’s an example of four different styles we could use for applying colors in Workflowy: bullet, chip, title background, and entire node background.
While the colors in the above screenshot look random (because they are), I can see myself using these styles differently in different situations. And I like that.
Progressively exposed controls
And here is a GIF showing how we might add some controls to let you choose a color and then a style:
You could imagine something similar for tag styles, letting people choose a color as well as a style. Here are three random tag styles people are using via custom CSS right now:
To some degree all these options great. People can use the various style options to create granular visual meaning that helps them process their information more effectively. People can make their digital space look the way they want.
However, having so many options is also pretty fiddly.
Direction 2: One style to rule them all
A less fiddly approach lets users choose colors only, then applies them with a single default style. In this way, we could provide users with enough control to make parts of their Workflowy look different while still maintaining the minimalism of Workflowy and, most important, avoiding fiddling. Below is the direction we’re currently thinking for this on individual nodes, color the bullet and the bar next to the children. This visual approach lets you make individual nodes stand out as well as make visually distinct sections. These are two of the main functional needs for colors.
Here’s how picking the color would be for that.
As for the default style on tags, we haven’t thought about it.
Where are we leaning? Toward keeping it simple.
Right now we are leaning toward providing clean and simple defaults for coloring nodes and tags in Workflowy, you choose the color, we choose the style. It feels more “Workflowy” and it’s easier to go complex after simple than the other way around.
However, my initial instinct was entirely the opposite direction. I thought, “If we’re letting people customize workflowy, let’s let them lots of options to customize workflowy”. And I’m still totally open to that.
What do you think? Lots of options? None?
I feel like the simpler approach is probably more in line with the style of the product, but I am genuinely open to being persuaded. If there was overwhelming support for having lots of options, I will think really hard about it.
Comment. Let me know what you think.
Thoughts after your feedback