RIP Google Reader
When Google announced that they'd be abandoning Google Reader (GR) in July, it hit me hard. I was a Google Reader user since 2007, it was daily routine for me to check Reader along with Gmail whenever I booted up my computer.
I didn't get much happier after searching and trying out the alternatives. Although GR was dated and felt abandoned for a long time before the announcement the alternatives didn't fill the gap. Feedly uses a plugin for who knows what reason. Then I get a ton of features I don't care about: I don't want a magazine-like layout, this is the web, not print (I'm aware of the other viewing modes). Even if I install the extension, I get a sneaky social sharing button on the bottom right of every page. Annoying, even if I can turn it off.
Other services like Netvibes or Newsblur went a common way: bloated, busy, so many features and useless stuff going on that the actual content seemed to get to second plan. As for Reeder app on the Mac or Feed Demon, I don't think a feed reader needs a dedicated client, modern browsers and web technologies are more than capable of doing what a feed reader is suposed to do and are cloud based by nature. That reminds me: easy mobile access is a must. None of the current solutions offer a great mobile counter-part (neither did GR).
Digg promised a feed reader much like Google's, with a focus on simplicity and speed. I was never a Digg user but I'm betting on them for the best alternative, although they'll obviously add some Digg-centric features that I most certainly won't use.
I like to imagine and design products I'd use, even if I don't get to actually build them in the future. I like the exercise of creating a vision, thinking about what the features would be and how they would materialize UI and UX wise or across devices. An alternative to GR was great opportunity for this kind of exercise.
What if there was a feed reader that would let you easily get to the content you want and then get itself out of the away, all while looking elegant? What if it didn't impose you features you don't care about? A it just works™, uncomplicated, clean, no bullshit kind of reader? That was my vision for RiD. Take a look.
Reading through a feed:
No trends. No explore. Just folders and feeds and that's it. If you can't read something now then add it to the Read Later folder. If you want to save something, add it to your favorites. Organization is simple yet powerful. No visual focus on the new items counter so there is less obsessing over how many items you have yet to read.
Adding a new feed:
No more complex than it needs to be.
Adding a new feed is as simple as entering a URL. If you're out of ideas then choose from the auto generated selection, based on your current or hand picked feeds.
Some might consider this "flat design". Wathever you want to call it, it's as minimal as it can be, in order to place all attention in the content, where it should be. That is also why I added the focus mode.
Building on top of an idea.
There is plenty of room for new ideas, although I think it should be kept simple. A "top stories today" section with the most relevant stories, community based, could be a good idea. Integration with Pocket instead of the built in read it later feature has also been considered.
Digg did actually deliver, with a vision and execution so incredibly similar to RiD. I'm happy that happened, as it quickly became my reader of choice for being so close to what I had in mind with RiD and working out so well. I highly recommend it if you are still looking around for a substitute or even if you're new to readers. Digg Reader