The UX of Google Reader Replacements

I have been an avid user of Google Reader for years.  I was stunned by Google’s announcement that they would shut the service down.  Literally, I check it and read 10-20 times a day.  I don’t like my news getting stale.  But they are discontinuing it, so I needed to find a replacement.

First, I tried The Old Reader.  I wanted my old reader back, so this seemed like a good fit.  I imported my Google Reader definitions file and it told me it would process my request…just as soon as it finished 35,635 other users first.

WTF?  No seriously.  WTF!

Surprisingly, this took weeks to accomplish.  My WTF meter was off the charts for quite some time.  This is the difference between good programming and bad programming.  However, it did finish eventually.

My first test had Google Reader open at the same time as The Old Reader.  I would watch them both to make sure it was picking up the news.  Turns out the The Old Reader was extremely slow in picking up new articles.  I couldn’t tell what was going on, but it was clear that this option would not work for me.

I explored a few other options and tried Feedly.  It connected to Google Reader easily enough.  Speed seemed decent and it had android and iPad versions.  All good.  Then I started using it.  I found many of their UX enhancements to be annoying.

  • Keyboard shortcuts [n]ext and [p]revious didn’t work.  Instead they use [j] and [k].  The preferences make it look like [n] and [p] work, but they don’t on my computer.
  • Mark as as read.  I don’t understand this gesture at all.  Google would mark anything I looked at as “read” unless I marked it otherwise.  It seems like Feedly needs me to click “Mark category as read” at the end.  I checked the preferences, but it’s confusing.
  • Too many options.  All of the “news” layouts are just hard to read.  Give me the articles in a simple layout and stop trying to confuse me.  I understand “some people” will like those other layouts, but Google got it right.  Keep it simple.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate it.  I am just sad about Google scrapping it. I don’t understand their reasoning.  Goodbye old friend.  Until I find a better option, Feedly will fill your place in my daily routine.

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