Landing Page Feedback May 20, 2019

Ponder: all your scattered thoughts in a searchable timeline

Tavi Nathanson @tavinathanson

I just built Ponder (https://ponder.chat): it's like Slack, but you're the only one in the chat! I wanted to be able to work through ideas and problems in a timestamped chat interface, as well as to dump in random thoughts/links/todos/etc. without worrying about what document to put them in. Any message can be retrieved with search and hashtags.

I'd love to get your feedback on Ponder! If anyone could register and use it for a day, I'd be particularly grateful!

#product-feedback-request #landing-page-feedback

  1. 3

    I agree with @dmontooth, fonts are a big deal for heavy text application. Right now, it is hard to discern between different messages. Padding/font size is one way to go about it, I would also suggest you consider removing timestamp completely. Make it optional if you search "time-related" notes or when you click on the messages, but why would you need otherwise?

    I think the de-facto solution to your problem is to use Evernote. Recently, Notion appeared to challenge Evernote. There are tools like AirTable, Smartsheets, etc. for more specific use cases. I'm personally the user of Evernote + paper notepad + Pocket for articles. Things that I love about that stack: it is available everywhere and it takes me a second to dump thought in it and leave it there to decay until I have time to come back. Things I hate about Evernote, that it is in general hard to tag things and I would love to have functionality with automatic hashtags like Ponder does. Also, Telegram — the fastest chat application I've ever used, has a chat with yourself where you can pretty much replicate all of the functionality that you currently have.

    That being said, I do think that there is no solution to capture a vast amount of information we see daily and there are people desperately trying to do that. Personally, I would use something like you offer as a means to stay focused during the day. When something important comes my way but I'm working on other tasks, I want to write it down to come back to it later and decide what to do with it. Applying a "batch distractions" technique if you try to name it. I try to use Todoist for that, but for some reason, it just sucks with all the lists and I keep loosing stuff there. I can't figure it out. But I do love the way you can tag/put things to lists/assign reminders from everywhere by just pressing a hotkey and type stuff.

    Hope this helps,
    Sergey

    PS I'm also from LA, happy to connect on some meetup/coffee to discuss more if it will help you.

    1. 1

      Thanks so much, Sergey! I agree that the timestamps are too cluttered, in addition to the potential spacing/font issues.

      I agree with you that I'm partially competing with Evernote, though with a UI that caters to different needs. As for Telegram, I agree that a lot of what Ponder can do now is replicable in various chat apps, though as I develop Ponder further I expect that to change.

      Staying focused by dumping my mental state is one of the reasons I developed Ponder. I currently use TextEdit, emails to myself, physical notes, etc. to get things off my mind as quickly as possible. In those moments, I don't want to create a new document anywhere. I do want to track the timestamp of the thing and be able to quickly find it again.

      I'm out of LA until July, but would love to connect later!

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        Perfect, let's stay in touch and please reach out to me if you need feedback or opinion on your future developments!

  2. 3

    This is a cool idea. I would use it.

    There are a few things I'd recommend on the UI. It's a bit hard to digest right now, so I started hacking up the CSS :)

    Since it's all text, the padding is too tight. I changed the padding on the .event class to 1rem and it was much easier to read. Let the UI breathe a bit more.

    For an app that's being used to organize my thoughts, the UI has to breathe and it has to be skimmable. I could be saving lots of disconnected thoughts, ideas, plans, notes, links ....

    For me, the timestamp is a little clunky (this is certainly a personal opinion). I changed it to a format like so:

    about an hour ago (May 21st at 8:29am)

    I bumped the time element's color to rgba(0,0,0,.64) and left the rest at .4 like you had it. It helped to differentiate the timeago portion from the archive date and time.

    The #hashtag search appears to be an AND search rather than an OR. That may be by design, but I was expecting an OR search and when I added two hashtags there were no results found. I could see those hashtags elsewhere in the UI, so it felt like a bug.

    Getting into the copy a little, this line helps people understand what to expect, but I think it misses your benefit - "Ponder is like Slack, but you're the only one in the chat!"

    That tells me HOW to use it but I miss the WHY. For me personally, this helps me keep track of a lot of usually disconnected stuff all in one place, without losing it. I'd get some kind of messaging going around that. Draw out the benefit.

    Good stuff though. I hope this takes off.

    1. 1

      Thanks so much for this feedback!

      Re your UI suggestions: I really appreciate you taking the time to tweak the CSS. For context, were you viewing Ponder on desktop or mobile?

      The search is indeed AND; I can see how that's confusing.

      As for the copy, I completely agree that I'm not selling the value proposition. This is because I couldn't decide whether Ponder is most helpful for journaling, brainstorming, lists, etc. I like your description of the benefit: saving disconnected stuff, whatever that stuff might be.

      How do you organize your thoughts/ideas/plans/notes/links today? What could I add to Ponder that would get you excited enough to start using it?

      1. 1

        I viewed it on desktop and mobile. For me personally, the spacing is too tight. I visually need top and bottom padding to comfortably read and skim.

        To give you some customer research perspective, I would use this to organize the multiple things that need to be addressed throughout my day to day.

        I like this format because right now, I use multiple tools to track freeform "stuff" that doesn't work well in a project/task management tool like Trello.

        I might use Google Docs or Sheets to track stuff that may need to be shared with others. I might use my analog notebook to track stuff that I need to do at home or random ideas that I want to explore later once I'm done with the tasks I have to track in VSTS....

        I also bookmark or email myself links that I want to read later. I sometimes jot down important points or quotes from those articles. Sometimes not, and I forget something that I wanted to remember.

        It's easy to get scatterbrained with all of this.

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          Appreciate the perspective! It's nice to hear that I'm not the only one with these challenges :)

  3. 1

    Cool idea, cool name. I would use this. I currently use Evernote and pen/paper and sometimes emailing myself for jotting down my thoughts. The most useful value proposition of ponder for me would be the searchability. I have a lot of thoughts and random ideas and it is useful and valuable for me to see how they evolve over time. So I would be searching all the time. On that note, it was surprising to me that the search with hashtags currently has AND semantics. I was trying to think of ways to make this not surprising to users and one random idea is something similar to Kayak's "Stops" layout with checkboxes with the default being only the item you clicked on. Anyway just a random idea, maybe others may prefer the AND but it was surprising to me.

    1. 1

      Thank you! You're not the only one who was surprised by the AND. I like the "Stops" checkboxes idea. I'm excited to keep improving Ponder's search function because I agree that it's a key component (for me as a user, too).

      Since you say you'd use Ponder, what does it lack right now that you'd want to see before you use it?

  4. 1
    1. I find exact timestamps to be too granular. I prefer hourly (and daily for anything older than a day)
    2. I really like reverse-chronological order - latest note on top of the page.

    Context: I'm a huge fan of Notational Velocity (and NVAlt), been using text files to store notes for almost a decade now. But using multiple files has a drawback: it forces you to both capture AND organize at the same time. I like how Ponder doesn't force me to categorize (besides tagging). The one advantage of separate "spaces" (or text files) is that once I open a particular one, I immediately get a coherent view of that particular topic/note. For instance, I have a running log file for every side project that I'm working on.

    Anyway, I like the idea. Been thinking about building a similar tool myself one day :-) Happy to braindump more if helpful.

    1. 1

      Thanks for this feedback! I agree that the timestamps are too granular right now. I do like the current chronological order, but we'll see how things evolve.

      I struggle with multiple files for the exact reason you describe: I usually don't want to organize during capture. I'm curious: if you click a hashtag on Ponder and see the view of that hashtag's feed, does that not offer a coherent view of the topic comparable to separate spaces/files?

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        clicking on hashtag does offer a coherent view of the topic, however... As of right this moment, I have 1.4k different text files - some are large, some are tiny, and I'm not so sure that hashtags would be enough to organize that much text (most of which is useless but it's there nonetheless). Some of my files are generic, like "product ideas.txt", which can be labeled with a nice generic "product-ideas" hashtag. Other files are super specific, like "alice birthday gift list" which would require constructing a more complex search query to get a coherent view of this. Some combination of hashtags and a smart search might be the answer here.

        One more thought about hashtags - once the number of hashtags goes above certain number, I start to forget their names, like is it plural "product-ideas" or singular "product-idea" etc etc.

        My use case might be an outlier here, so don't mind me :-)

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          I agree that there is a limit to the usefulness of hashtags. I want any message or coherent group of messages to be easily retrievable by a smart search engine, regardless of hashtag labeling. Your use case, even if an outlier, is helpful to think through: thanks!

  5. 1

    I love it. Interestingly, I often direct message myself on Slack to accomplish exactly what you are trying to do. After a few months of doing this, I started a solo Slack team. I am the only member. I use the different channels to dump ideas, links, and random thoughts; essentially the exact use case of Ponder except I use channels instead of tags.

    Regarding your current interface, I agree with all the other comments regarding styling and readability. You're definitely on the right track.

    1. 1

      Wow, that's so interesting that you've actually been using Slack for this! What were you using to track ideas/thoughts/etc. before you started tracking them in Slack? How much of your Slack feed is stream of consciousness, essentially talking to yourself using bursts of messages (this is what I do in Ponder) vs. more structured lists or other content?

      1. 1

        I'm still a fan of paper and pen. I keep a small notebook with me at all times to jot notes and to-do items down. It works great for quick thinking and saves my eyes the screen time.

        I use my private Slack team (and would use ponder) to store ideas, links, messages, and a lot of written -- often stream of conscious -- ideas. (I keep the to-dos in the notebook).

        To answer your question, each "data type" has it's own channel. #bookmarks, #rambling, #pictures, #band-names, #recipes, etc.

        One interesting thing that I do frequently is use this private team to send files between devices. Because Slack is omnipresent it eliminates any friction that might be caused by manufacturer. (Sending from Android to iPad for example). This is probably outside of your use case but I thought you might like to know since I use this pattern for every other problem you are trying to solve with Ponder.

        LOVE the name by the way!

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          Thanks for explaining your use case in detail! Also a fan of pen and paper.

  6. 1

    Cool idea. Make it very simple for people to start, they will soon get addicted :)

    1. 1

      Thanks! Do you think it can be simpler to start than it is now? What do you think of the ease of registration for a new account?

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        My personal opinion: Site doesn't look very intuitive. The main intention of the site is not visible in the site(someone who doesn't know what this site will have take time to understand its purpose).

        I think minimalist approach like Trello will greatly influence your users.

        1. 1

          Thanks for your suggestions!

  7. 1

    I really like the name, Ponder. I think it's really good.

    Although, for me to use it, I think it would need a bit of a better design. But all in all, I think it's a good idea.

    1. 1

      Thank you! I've gotten some great design feedback already on this thread, but I'd love to hear more about what you might change about the design.

  8. 1

    I like the idea. I think I would use something like that.

    The option to make the posts private or public would be interesting too.

    I came across JournalFlow recently, which made me think that it would be nice to have an app, or even just post something via WhatsApp or Telegram, etc.

    1. 1

      Thanks! I've been thinking about allowing users to publicly share individual messages or entire hashtags. Did you have a use case in mind for making things public?

      Thanks for pointing me to JournalFlow, that's interesting. I definitely want to wrap this in an app in the near future.

  9. 1

    This is pretty decent! I used to have a notes app, and a reminders app, and another app for tracking my workouts. This might be a solution to that.

    Keep us updated!

    1. 1

      Thank you! Is there anything I could add to Ponder that would make you want to use it right away?