Introducing: Memrise Labs for Web!

So, as Francis mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re currently in the process of completely rewriting the code for Memrise on the web. The current codebase is old and unwieldy, and means that we can’t fix bugs or build new features in any kind of quick way. How we’re going to do this is by tackling big chunks of the app one bit at a time, and updating and fixing them. This also means we’ll be fixing bits of bad UX or UI that you’ve been requesting for aeons, and making the whole thing responsive, and also free us up to actually start making concerted improvements to how Memrise works on the web.

I know in the past I’ve had a hand in some of the forum’s most… divisive… subjects (RIP Ziggy), but we want to make sure we do this right, which is why we’re opening up an alpha group to help us test these new experiences. Just like some of your favourite apps, you’ll be able to turn on ‘alpha features’ (kind of like Labs), which will give you early access to the things we’re building, and in return, we’d love to get feedback and bug reports from you folks before we release things to the world. We’ll set aside a section of the forum for you lovely people to post about the alpha releases, and we’ll make sure we’re actively monitoring it as much as our day jobs can allow.

To begin with, we’re tackling a bigg’un: all the different types of learning and review sessions (like Learn, Review, Learn with Locals etc). We’ll slowly release them as we go, culminating in the two biggest, Learn New Words and Classic Review, towards the end. Obviously these are core to what Memrise does, and we’ll be testing these on both Memrise and Community courses, but we’ll need your help making sure we track down and squash all the nasty bugs that may pop up.

We’ve spent the last week setting everything up and updating what we call the ‘Presentation Card’, which is the screen you see when you’re first introduced to an item, or when you’ve got it wrong.

We’ve made some slight hierarchy improvements to the information that’s presented, as well as updating the container UI to look a bit more modern and Memrisey. As with any design change, we’re sure that some people will prefer the old one, but It’d be nice if you live with it for a while and give it a chance to grow on you, if your feedback is purely on the style.

One thing to note: I want to make it clear, we will be improving as we go, but this won’t always cover off all of the feedback we’ve got here over the years. However, once we’ve got the basics done, we can start looking at how we can move forward with the web and make it as usable and awesome as we can.

So, what do you need to do now? For starters, you can go and track the new Web Alpha forum category to keep up with future posts. In a couple of weeks, we’ll post information about how to turn on your ‘Alpha Testing’ feature in settings. And if you want a little sneak peek of what the new Presentation Cards feel like, you can check them out in the rather hidden ‘Preview Mode’. To access this, go to the page of a course you’re learning (French 1, for example) and click on one of the levels. Click on the ‘Options’ button below the progress bar and click ‘Preview (Alpha)’. This will take you into a session that just has Presentation Cards on it.

Until next release!

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It’s nice to be able to see the videos with pronunciation by natives on the new presention cards for official courses.

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Very cool.

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Thanks as ever and hope it goes well under restrictive (CV19) conditions.

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Thanks DW7! We’re very lucky that the team can all work remotely and stay safe, so we’re currently at full capacity (apart from a few sick folks)!

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Ah, this does sound like a very good prospect, thumbs up!

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I’ve just enabled the labs, only had time to use the quick review so far.

Some points:

  • On my current screen (13" macbook), the scaling is such that all of the options don’t even fit on the screen, I have to scroll down to see them… In general the UI just looks too huge. Why is the top bar about 1" thick?
  • The timer going down in chunks is distracting (rather than the old way, in which is would slowly but smoothly build up)
  • Why is the first letter of every sentence not capitalized? This is a language learning program - show proper casing.
  • Not a fan of the 3 second timer on start. Maybe it’s always been there either way, when I click the ‘speed review’ button from the main page, it means I am ready to start. Not that I am ready to start in 3 seconds.

Other than that, I think so far this one page is an improvement. Just… please, make it all fit on one screen.

Hi, long term Memrise user here (since 2013 IIRC). I’m mostly an iOS user, and the iOS app is so awesome, if not for it, I’d have quit long ago. This is the best way to learn a language, I’m using it at the gym, during commute, while waiting in queues, etc.

Anyway that’s not the subject here, it’s about the web UI. I’m actually a huge fan of the Web UI. It is clear, it is big, it has the mems feature much more accessible than on mobile (I wonder why), and in general it is way more accessible than any learning website I’ve encountered (Drops, Busuu, Lingvist)

But this new UI seems to take two steps backward. The words are smaller, key shortcuts are mostly gone, the mems are gone, the font is less readable…

I don’t see the point of the redesign. If it’s just the start, and that you’ll be adding back the features with time, then fine, but for now it looks like much like a regression than an improvement.

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Hi @heliosaianf7,

I too and a very long-time user, and I too like the web view - especially for Community created courses, because of all the extra information available (full course description and multimedia levels etc).

But I have really appreciated the Android App for speedy learning or revision of the Official Italian courses.

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Hi heliosaianf7,

Thanks for taking the time to post!

One other thing to note is that we’ve designed the page so that it reacts much better to your browser font size. Hitting zoom in your browser or changing the font size in your settings to whatever you feel comfortable with should be a good option.

As for keyboard shortcuts, we’ve got lots coming! We’re aiming to ship the main changes first to get feedback as soon as possible and improve from there. Keyboard shortcuts is something we definitely wan to get right on Web and we’ve got a big spreadsheet tracking them all. Let me know if there is anything in particular you’d love to have in there!

James at Memrise.

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While this is exciting news in terms of UI fixes, I’m a bit sad and maybe even disappointed that all that was good about Memrise that was around at the start is slowly being erased. While the apps have been very modified and it does seem for the better, I don’t really understand why there needs to be such a huge overhaul of the look of the web Memrise. I’m going to sign up for the Beta so that I can provide feedback, but I feel just a bit let down that the web, a safe haven mostly from the destructive changes that have happened of the past few years (removal of flower system, spaceships, ziggy, flowers back again, decks, need I go on), is now going to be changed. I find the new colourscheme of memrise very difficult on my eyes and I had hoped that the website would remain a kind of safe space away from that eyestrain as much as was possible. Now I’m worried that I will be unable to access the website because of the colour scheme.

This being said, I’m hopeful that when Memrise web inevitably gets destroyed by the team, as they tend to make very large changes without thinking all aspects through, they will reconsider like they have before. This is the only thing that is preventing me from being devastated, because so far most horrible issues brought in over the last few years have been addressed at least partially. I look forward to seeing the new changes and providing my constructive criticism, but I would hope that the team read this comment and realise that the website already looks “memrise-y” and that the layout and ‘garden’ already works very well. Don’t fix what isn’t broken, and in this case the UX is broken but the web design is not. There is no need for drastic changes, only minor ones if there really have to be any changes implemented. The large majority of your longtime users have only stuck by because this website design has remained the way it has. Do not doubt that had the website been changed (the way it looks in the photos above), and then Decks announced, that would have marked the end of a large part of their support and there would have been no recovering. This is a website and it doesn’t need to look like an app. Cohesiveness is one thing, but please Memrise team remember that this is your website space and that it is the fact that the website and its layout have remained so distinct and separate which have made it so awesome, and has guaranteed the support of so many for these last years.