October 09, 2005 | Category:

Design: Google Reader

Google, in all their wisdom, have created a web-based feed reader, imaginatively titled Google Reader, and, as I mentioned in my del.icio.us links, it is rubbish.

In the past, the big G have been the Technic of the Lego family. Robust, complicated and well-designed toys reduced to the simplest UI that could possibly work. Every cog and brick has been perfectly placed to add the right functionality to the right audience, and these systems have been slowly built up into a collection that has become the cornerstone of most people’s web toybox.

Google Reader is Duplo: big, chunky and useless. The UI is far from intuitive. All the best features are hidden behind tabs and button pushes. Why should I have to go through several (confusing) steps to find the add feed button? It’s one of the primary use cass, it should be a permanent fixture! Who thought that item-level menus was a good idea? It just greatly slows down the time it takes to get through hundreds of feeds. I want to click on a feed (or group of feeds) and see everything all at once. I do not want to navigate to the item level for each feed and then have to navigate back to the main menu, then to the next item level, then to the main menu. No feed reader has ever done that, and for good reason: it’s slow. Every feature is accessed through ugly blocks of design and disparate widgets. They should have made up their mind.

Bloglines is your bog standard Lego. It’s functional, but not brilliant. There’s so much more that it could be done with it if it was just a little nicer (for example, I hate the page load of the menu frame when saving or unsaving items. Very unnecessary.) It’s still a lot better than this latest Google effort. I’d have expected more.