So, this semester I’m taking a Human-Computer Interaction course. Essentially, I’m taking the course to get some much needed experience in an area that far too often thwarts a developer’s attempts at fame a fortune: the User Interface. The Human-Computer Interaction area is all about studying how certain design decisions by developers can change the User Experience (UX) that results from those design decisions.
Anyone who has ever interacted with Mac OS X will testify that a lot of thought was put into how things were organized. Granted, you may not like it for your workflow, or what have you — but a lot of their ideas are well reasoned and their designs continue to push innovation in the field of User Interface design. Developers who write applications for Mac acknowledge this as well, and in many ways have taken up the example that Apple has set by designing beautiful interfaces. One such example that I want to share with you is a program called Reeder for Mac.
When you first start Reeder, you will be prompted for some information for a Google Reader account which serves as the backing for your feeds. Then you will be presented with a three-pane screen like the one above with different categories of feeds on the left, current feed items in the middle, and feed preview on the rightmost panel. This view serves as your primary browsing interface, and is where you will thumb back and forth between many of your feeds. Although Reeder for Mac doesn’t let you manage your feeds yet you’ll find that it does adhere to the groups you specify in your Google Reeder setup, which may be useful for categorizing what you want to read.
Now as anyone who uses RSS Feed Aggregators will testify, opening to read the full text of the article your viewing is something that will always present problems if not implemented well by the Feed Reader program. Reeder, like many Feed Readers, has decided to take the approach of embedding a web browser in the program. When you decide to read an article on the original web page (either by clicking the article title in the preview pane or by pressing the right arrow key) you see a beautiful transition as the leftmost panel disappears, the middle panel slides to the left, and the preview pane becomes larger to better accomodate the website you’re about to view. It’s a painfully simple concept, but it is one that has made all the difference for me.
In most other programs, I inevitably end up feeling like the screen ends up cluttered when I load the webpage view. Then I get negative feelings associated with reeding feeds and I’m inclined not to read them anymore… and that doesn’t do anyone any good. Not so with Reeder. I’ve actually been using it to maintain the new “News Highlights” section in the sidebar of my homepage (it’s populated from my delicious feed). It’s official, I’m hooked on a User Experience.
Anyway, my point in this post isn’t to bash other readers or anything like that – but simply to say that if you’re looking for a nice, well designed reader for Mac OS X that integrates with Google Reader (therefore allowing you to thumb through your feeds when you’re not home) – then you should really check out Reeder. Fair warning, the software is still in Beta, meaning some features don’t work. But I think that you, like me, will find the initial feature set fairly appetizing. Along with the standard browsing, Reeder can integrate with Twitter, Delicious, Note, Instapaper, ReadItLater, etc. You can find Reeder for Mac here.
Out of curiosity, has everyone had the same experience that I’ve had with News Readers? Leave me some comment love and let me know. Until next time, my friends.