Why do you want colors in Workflowy?
🌈 We're starting to build colors in Workflowy, and we want your feedback.
We are adding colors to Workflowy. Why? Because you, our lovely users, yell "I want colors!!!" in our ears rather frequently. You used to yell about images more often, but we've addressed that. Because we are 🔥.
If you want to follow the development of colors and help us make decisions, join this newsletter! We’ll be sharing our thoughts and designs as we work on them, and taking suggestions.
Tell us why you want colors!
I've spoken with a bunch of people about why they want colors, and often they have interesting reasons. I'd like to hear from you. In which situations do you want colors? Why? Oh really? Tell me more?
Please leave examples and feelings, as specific as you can, in the comments.
Two examples to get your brain juices flowing:
One person I corresponded with is a show runner for TV shows, and they outline scripts with their team in Workflowy. They want to color different beats in their scripts by which characters are in them.
Another person uses Workflowy to collect ideas. When zoomed in on ideas, she wants them to feel different, look different. She wants to reflect their essence visually. This is something she likes in Notion, but can't do in Workflowy.
What I've learned so far: the deeper reasons people want colors
The two examples above demonstrate the two main reasons I've seen people want colors in Workflowy.
Quick visual scanning
First, they want to easily pull data out of Workflowy while scanning the page. They want to add a layer of visual meaning that will let them, for example, see things assigned to them, see urgent things, see the categories of things without reading the content. The show runner has this need.
Second, people want their Workflowy to feel like home. They want to do the equivalent of interior decorating, making it just feel a certain way, look pretty, or slick, etc.. The idea collector has this need.
It's not just about colors
If you think about the above needs - quick visual scanning and interior decorating - adding color is one of many ways to meet them, and I think considering all of them is worthwhile. A few obvious examples:
Emojis. They have color, but they are more than that. They let you decorate and add visual meaning at the same time. So, yes, Ksenia, we'll be letting you add emojis to tags 🎉🥳
Background images on nodes let you create a feeling and explicit meaning for a "space"
Typography — like changing fonts, adding inline headings, code blocks, etc — can both make your content easier to scan and give it a particular feeing.
Even the ability to control layout can let you "decorate" your space. This sort of fine grained layout control is one of the things people love about Notion.
There are many more examples, and I am by no means saying we'll be able to do all of these things right now. I'm just trying to give you a sense of how I'm thinking about things.
Where we're planning to start
We've been chatting about good places to start, and we're considering prototyping two things first:
Allowing custom CSS in Workflowy, then making that shareable. This will let people customize the look and feel of Workflowy to their heart's content. Making these customizations shareable in a theme marketplace will then open up a whole world of customizations to our non-coding users. To accomplish this, we will also have to make the app easier to style with CSS.
Using tags to change colors and styling: Tags are one of the main ways people add new dimensions of meaning to their Workflowy documents. It makes sense to build on that. We'll probably start with simple stuff, like letting you choose the color and style of a tag itself. Then, we’ll consider more advanced stuff, like letting tags control the overall styling of the node where it lives. And while we're on the topic, I'm also excited about letting tags control the structure and behavior of their nodes.
Anyway, I'm hoping to share much more as we work on this, give early access to prototypes, and ideally gather a lot of ideas from the community. We'll be sharing the Figma docs we use for others to play with and build upon, and we’ll be open to gathering and sharing ideas from our users.
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I'm using Workflowy for project managing my consultancy, and I'd like the option to put different projects in different colors. Background colors (to indicate clients) would be the cherry on the sundae.
I use Workflowy to collect research and all I want is to be able to highlight certain text/words/sentences so that when I go back through the research, I can scan for the highlights. Pretty frustrating that this isn't already a basic feature. Any idea when we can expect an update?