A few days ago we announced that we were re-prioritizing our product roadmap for 2013 in order to build an RSS reader from scratch. While we had long planned to build something like this, we had no idea we’d be attempting to do it so soon, or within such a tight timeframe. But after Google’s announcement last week, and Reader’s imminent shutdown, we think it’s the right thing to do. It’s certainly the self-interested thing to do, given how much we all relied on Google Reader.
Over 800 comments were left on last week’s blog post. That’s more than we received when we told the world we were rebuilding Digg itself. It’s also proof that Google Reader users (and RSS devotees in general) are rabid information addicts with strong opinions. We’re truly grateful for the input.
The comments are rife with practical, creative, and smart insights that we will do our level best not to squander. Over the next few months, our goal is to spend as much time as possible with devoted users of Google Reader and other reading applications.
After combing through all 800 comments, here are 4 points that seemed to recur, and loudly:
Keep it simple, stupid*
Make it fast (like, really fast)
Synchronize across devices
Make it easy to import from existing Google Reader accounts
Google did a lot of things right with its Reader, but based on what we’re hearing from users, there is room for meaningful improvement. We want to build a product that’s clean and flexible, that bends easily and intuitively to the needs of different users. We want to experiment with and add value to the sources of information that are increasingly important, but difficult to surface and organize in most reader applications — like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, LinkedIn, or Hacker News. We likely won’t get everything we want into v1, but we believe it’s worth exploring.
We’re a small team, and while we tend to work best under tight time constraints, building a Google Reader replacement in a few months is a massive undertaking that will consume our days and nights. We’re confident we can ship a product that meets the principles above, but if a feature is missing on Day 1 that you were really looking forward to, we ask that you 1) tell us and 2) be patient.
With that in mind, we’re going to continue to gather input from Reader junkies, casual users, and even the original developers themselves. If you’re at all interested in being a part of the development process (or just keeping up with our progress), please join our email list. We’ll use that list to keep in touch with you and the thousands of others who have already signed up.
P.S. We’re also eager to work with any developers that want to lend a hand, so get in touch if you’re interested in being a part of this (mildly insane) sprint.