Bad design: Goodreads’ review editor

As terrible as 2020 has been, we still have modern conveniences, like toasters, washing machines and keyboard shortcuts for formatting when writing text on the web.

Unless you use Goodreads’ “What did you think?” text box to add a review of a book you’ve read. In this case what you get is a text box that could have existed in 1998, unchanged.

Here’s the set of formatting tips it includes, which could have been cribbed from Learning HTML for Dummies, 1999 edition:

They do have a few concessions to the 21st century, mostly related to allowing easier linking to content on its own site (a coincidence, to be sure), and if you use a proper link, it will automatically make it clickable, a true miracle of modern web magic.

But looking at the warning about improperly nesting tags really does take me back to when I was building websites in HTML by hand and yes, it really was in 1999.

Given how trivially simple it is to offer simple and easy formatting controls (keyboard shortcuts and a formatting bar, both of which are available to me as I write this post in WordPress), the only reason I can think for a massive site like Goodreads to not offer the same is sheer laziness. And that’s not a good reason. It’s bad design.

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