Over the last 90 days, the Digg engineering team — all 5 of them — has been heads-down building an updated take on the RSS reader. For our first public release, in time to (just) beat the shutdown of Google Reader, our aim has been to nail the basics: a web and mobile reading experience that is clean, simple, functional, and fast. We’re also introducing a tool that allows users to elevate the most important stories to the top.
And so next week we will begin rolling out Digg Reader, version 1. We’re doing the launch in phases because, as you might have guessed, RSS aggregation is a hard thing to do at scale, and we want to make sure the experience is as fast and reliable as possible. Everyone will have access by June 26th. With all this in mind, we thought now would be a good moment to come up for air and share a little bit about the product you’ll see next week, and what else we’ll be adding over the next few months.
Given the compressed time frame for this sprint, we decided early on that we needed to focus on one type of user. We asked ourselves who had most to lose from the shutdown of Google Reader, and the answer was fairly obvious: the power user, the people who depend on the availability, stability, and speed of Reader every day. The good news is that these users are also the most eager to contribute to the development process. (Over 18,000 people signed up to provide feedback on the product.)
Here’s what we heard from them:
- Make it fast.
- Keep it simple.
- Let me import my feeds and folders from Google Reader.
So with that in mind, this beta release centers on these core elements of the product:
- Easy migration and onboarding from Google Reader.
- A clean reading experience that gets out of the way and puts the focus squarely on the articles, posts, images, and videos themselves.
- Useful mobile apps that sync with the web experience.
- Support for key actions like subscribing, sharing, saving and organizing.
Launch is always an exciting moment, but it’s what follows that will matter most to our users. In the 60 days following launch, our focus will be on:
- Android app.
- Integration with additional third party services (like Buffer, Evernote, and IFTTT).
- Better tools to sort, filter and rank your reading lists and feeds, based on your networks, interests, likes, and so on.
- Collecting and responding to user feedback.
…and getting started on:
- And of course, a button that, when pushed, automatically delivers a cronut to your desk. Uber for cronuts.
We mentioned in a prior post that Digg Reader will ultimately be a ‘freemium’ product. But we’re not going to bait-and-switch. All of the features introduced next week, as well as many others yet to come, will be part of the free experience.
While you’re at the beach and doing foliage cruises (or whatever people do in October), we’ll be spending the summer and fall building out a richer feature set, drawing heavily on users’ feedback, ideas, and requests. But first, we want to get the basics right, starting with a clean and uncluttered design and a powerful backend infrastructure than can operate well at scale.
Thanks for your patience and stay tuned for next week!