Platform Updates #1

The updates and new features added to the platform. Scheduling, Improved Content assistant, and media validation.

Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

I planned to start writing about the platform updates. (Like a changelog, but more comprehensive) This series of posts will cover new features, improvements, and bug fixes. Since starting the beta testing program, I have received many feedbacks, and the combination of these comments and monitoring users' behaviour did/will trigger the changes. Let's look at the new feature you might experience.

1. Scheduling Posts

The scheduling feature was a must-have option when I interviewed businesses on how they manage their social media. The owners tended to create several contents in advance and release them during the week, so I knew scheduling was necessary for a service that wanted to save time. It was postponed in favour of launching the service as soon as possible. However, it is here now.

A clip of toggling the schedule button in the publish form, followed by selecting desired date and time for distributing the content.
A demonstration of how to schedule social media content on the publish page. (click on the image to enlarge)

The users can schedule posts for up to 2 months (it is a limitation from Facebook API) in one-hour intervals. Shortening the intervals to 30 or even 15 minutes is possible but will be decided based on the user's needs.

2. Improved Content Assistant

The logged data showed that the content assistant in the previous design was challenging to use. I used to ask the users to write a sentence about their business to get a caption. Also, it assumed that all the users were selling a product and ignored services like photography, so the contents were not tailored to them.

The new workflow will ask simple questions about a business after signup. (name, type, description, ...) This information will make it possible to suggest captions by clicking just one button. (named "Surprise") There are also two new modes that generate captions based on 1) a description of the user-generated media or 2) an idea of a post, for example, a discount coupon for Black Friday. The new design's purpose is to make generating a new caption as easy as possible.

A clip that shows the initial popup after signup to collect business information. Then, it shows how generating a caption with just one click is possible.
A demonstration of the assistant new workflow.

3. Cropping Media

There was a repeated pattern of uploading images that were too wide or narrow for specific social media platforms. While it was not a big deal in immediate content publishing (since the user sees there was an error), it was a terrible experience when scheduling posts. Because the content never publishes and the user will not know Why!

The platform now has a built-in cropping functionality. It will first validate the selected image's aspect ratio and allow cropping of the image if the validation fails. The image could be cropped to either Portrait (4:5), landscape (16:9), or square (1:1).

A clip that shows the cropping feature. It will automatically trigger if the uploaded image does not meet the social media image requirement.
A demonstration of the cropping feature on images with an invalid aspect ratio. (click on the image to enlarge)

4. Media Validation

The cropping feature will eliminate the aspect ratio problem. However, other requirements still need to be answered, including media size, type, or duration. I previously didn't validate or even show the appropriate error message if there was a problem. Firstly, A complete rewrite of the platform's logging and error capturing was done to capture and display the error messages before submitting the media to social media platforms. Secondly, show appropriate error messages if there was an unknown error (like the selected video's refresh rate, which is very hard to calculate) instead of a general "something went wrong" error.

A clip that the platform throws an error when the user selects a video with a width larger than 1920 pixels which Instagram reels do not support.
A demonstration of how the new validation works. (click on the image to enlarge)

Final Words,

These changes will make the service more stable and easy to use. I plan to keep writing about the changes and new features regularly. (I just remembered that this blogging section is also new!) It will help the users to see the changes and understand what they should expect. Lastly, thanks to Kennedy, Justin, and the rest of the beta testers for pointing out the bugs and using the platform!

by Ala, 20-Feb-2023