New (possibly better!) goal creation

The new goal creation screen, née Elf[0], is now deployed! You can see it at or by clicking the big blue buttons on the dashboard and gallery.

The user-facing goals of the new goal revamp:

  • make it easier for newbees to create a goal without lots of decisions
  • put the most important things up front (but use sensible defaults)
  • allow experienced users to easily customize the goal as soon as they create it (reminders for example)

We also in the same swoop were able to simplify a lot of the rules about freebees and adding payment methods. Basically now there’s no such thing as a freebee - you can create as many goals starting at $0 as you want, as long as you enter a payment method first so that Beeminder can be a credible threat.

In fact, until you enter a payment method, your goals must start at $0 (since that’d be silly, right? To have a pledge on a goal but no way to enforce it? Who would do that??). So if you want to pledge, add a credit card.

To keep people from creating tons of pledgeless goals (and to align with our corporate Q1 initiative of “moar money”), there’s now a limit to how many goals you can create before adding a payment method. We’re running a test to see if there’s a clear winner in a limit of 1 goal vs. 7 goals.

[0] Elf because the old thing was called the goal wizard. And this is a game of giants, wizards, and elves!


Looking good !
One note : “Start now” might sound confusing to newbees
The previous buffer wording sounded better. In fact, the default should be to have a week of buffer.

Quoting myself from a daily beemail from when we changed to defaulting to no initial flat week:

Wow, I expected at least a bit of pushback on defaulting to no initial flat week. But everyone loves it. So much so that I wonder if we should remove the option for an initial flat week altogether.


“Definitely a fan. If I’m starting a new goal, I have energy and I want to see progress right away!”

“Yay! I’ve always found the safety buffer to be a big issue […] because it lets me push off things for the first week more. This is a good change.”

“…as an oldbee I think this default change will positively affect my life.”

It may be taking things too far to not even have the option, though we do need to find more ways to reduce the cognitive costs of getting up to speed with Beeminder. I believe that means removing choices that newbees are ill-equipped to make, like whether to have an initial safety buffer. The consequences of that aren’t clear when you’re new so we should decide it for you. I also think reducing cognitive load means adding choices up front that newbees can fully understand and that give them better sense of control. For example the pledge cap. Maybe the deadline and zeno start as well.

(As you can see, we did decide to leave the option, and in fact now let you choose how long the initial flat spot is.)

More history of that decision:

…we were seeing people really thrown by that initial flat week. Like getting the false impression that Beeminder only enforced progress on a weekly timescale, not understanding that the first week was different. Or just – ever since the reminders revamp with its drastic reduction in wolf-crying – being confused at the lack of bot emails or smartphone app reminders in the first week. We even worried that 9 days was long enough that by the time you got the emergency day emails you might’ve forgotten you’d even created a goal.

So, yeah, we might’ve just made Beeminder drastically better for newbees by changing the default state of a single checkbox. Maybe hyperbole but keep in mind the immense power of defaults.

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Fair enough! You might want to have the buffer options grayed out instead of hidden, so that newbies can get an idea of the other option instantly.

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Cool stuff! I’m really happy to see the rate units exposed on the new goal page. Now it’s only one step to make a goal with weekly or monthly units instead of like 5! I do wonder why yearly isn’t on there? I’m guessing hourly isn’t because it’s confusing that Beeminder enforces hourly goals daily, but I don’t see how yearly is any different than weekly or monthly in the confusion department.

Anyway, cool stuff!!

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I like it! A couple minor bug reports:

  1. In my browser the dropdown boxes are not quite tall enough so the text
    gets cut off a bit on the bottom.
  2. If I choose Odometer and then click Next, it says “Commit to” next to
    the boxes to set the rate, as expected. However, if I choose "Do less"
    from the drop down, and then choose “Odometer”, and then click “Next”, it
    now says “Limit” next to the rate boxes.

A couple of thoughts I have about the new page.

  • After you pick a goal type and click the “Next” button, there’s no way to go back and, for example, change the goal type (going back in the browser goes to the page before picking the goal type). If you want to look at the settings for different goal types it requires a lot of extra clicking to get back to the new goal page.
  • When the Goal Name text box has focus, a line of text “A good goal name…” appears (side note: that sentence should have a period at the end). When the text box loses focus, the text disappears. One, this means you can’t highlight/select/copy the text (just annoying), and two, trying to click the Pledge or Pledge cap radio buttons or the Start Now check box will “miss”, since the radio buttons move up. Also, trying to click the units combo box in the Limits line will automatically select the first item in the combo box drop down.
  • This might be unrelated to the new goal page changes, but did you get rid of the “whittle down” goal type? I really like that goal type!

@byorgey thanks for the bug reports! #2 is now fixed. For #1, which dropdown boxes do you mean? Could you maybe post a screenshot?

@thailyn thanks for posting! Replying to each bullet:

  • We can figure something out to make it easier to go back and change the goal type.
  • Can you take a screenshot of your screen with the Goal Name text box in focus? The helper text should appear on one line (if it doesn’t we might have a CSS issue) - when I click from there to the Pledge/Pledge cap buttons there’s no jump since the text was on one line.
  • Whittle down is still a thing! It’s coming back once we make some nice icons for each goal type and get rid of that dropdown.
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@apb re #1, all of them. Here’s an example screenshot:

This also happens to the dropdowns on the next page as well. I’m using Firefox 45 on Ubuntu wily.

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Also, I am seeing the same behavior as @thailyn with respect to the Goal Name text box and stuff jumping around. Here’s a screen shot. First, with the goal name box unfocused:

And focused:

The help text appears below the Goal Name line for me, so everything below it gets pushed down. Are you saying it is supposed to appear to the right, on the same line?

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Awesome, thanks for both the screenshots. You’re correct, it’s supposed to appear to the right so that the rest of the elements don’t jump. I’ll take a look at the CSS!

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Nice work, folks.

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Maybe instead of “Start now”, have something like “how many safe days” or “start with X (text box) safe days”.


That or "start on " instead. I don’t want to lose weight until after new years, but I want to be sure I do it then (thought example, I wouldn’t wait that long).


Used it today, looks really clean!

Still don’t understand why slugs are now “goal name”, and used in the place of titles (which can actually still be set afterwards :))
In short (pun intended), slugs are slugs. They are not titles. The goal creation screen should also ask for the title.

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Ooh, we have a very long answer to that:

In short, we’re changing a bunch of things and goalnames (previously known as slugs) are going to be the main thing we want you to focus on. The fact that you can still choose a goal title is vestigial and will be replaced with a “goal description”.

“Nerds care about URLs”
People care about clear statements (e.g. full phrases with spaces). I think you’re risking limiting Beeminder’s appeal by making things nerd-oriented. You’re risking alienating “regular people”. If you’re going through the trouble of auto-integrations, slugs don’t matter that much (what percentage of your target audience will use the mail, bot or slack options?)

“if we inferred the slug from the title”
You don’t have to. Just give the user the choice to set his slug. And his title. :wink:

“Changing slugs is problematic for both technical and akrasia-related reasons”
“This also lets us punt on the messy issue of slug-renaming”
As a fellow programmer, technical reasons shouldn’t matter. Don’t cripple your UX or do justification exercises because you can’t fix a programmer’s problem :wink:

If you want to check at successful implementations, look at WordPress

  • The page has a title with a clear depiction of what the content is about, both to the editor of the content and people visiting the site (think of a user sharing his goal)
  • Titles still manage to fit in mobile versions of sites
  • Slugs are automated but can easily be changed
  • System remembers slug changes and redirects accordingly

In short: just have a title field in the new goal creation screen :slight_smile:

just my 0.02$ :slight_smile:


I just made another new goal and got confused by the thing that said “Start with 2 days of safety buffer”. I assumed this meant how many days until I derail, but it turns out that it actually meant “number of days of flat road”, so I have four days of safety buffer. This is really confusing terminology, even for an old bee-hand like me.


Is this the centerline vs critical edge problem again?


It totally is, but I think there’s a pretty quick #UVI in making it less confusing in the meantime! (@apb?) Thanks for the bug report!