In a previous post, Ed discussed the exceptional and highly effective use of blog readers like Bloglines. In his post he mentioned the efficiency of having all your blogs in one central place, saving time and browsing. I have used Bloglines for a few months and have recently tested out another reader, Google Reader, to compare both functionality and usability.
Being a bit biased with my love for Bloglines, converting to Google Reader for a day was like wearing two left shoes for an entire day. Don’t get me wrong, I love many Google services like Gmail and Blogger, but Reader felt just a bit awkward.
First, I noticed the reader handled posts from a blog quite differently than Bloglines. Unlike Bloglines, when users scroll down in a particular RSS feed, Reader recognizes those posts as read. This can create a hassle if you are a skimmer like myself. Often times, I like to quickly browse for posts I’d like to read at a later time. In Bloglines, users have an option to save posts as new. This allows users to come back and read the post at a later time. Although in Reader you can turn this feature off, it can still be a bit confusing.
Second, the reader has a different interface which takes getting used to. Bloglines is very user-intuitive with a two-frame layout. This allows me to quickly find exactly what I’m looking for. In addition, Bloglines allows me to organize my feeds in distinct folders. You could label your folders “SEO”, “Marketing Techniques”, etc. This allows me to quickly find blogs within a certain subject realm. In Google Reader, I don’t have this option. Similar to Gmail, Reader gives users the option of using tags for posts and feeds. This can be a challenge to keep organized.
Third, Reader’s features differed slightly than that of its Bloglines counterpart. I found Reader’s Trends and Shared Items tools to be quite useful. Trends shows users graphically reading trends and subscription trends f0r feeds. This could be useful to determine what blogs are most important to users and blogs that might be worth ditching. Also, the shared items tool allows users to have a public URL with shared posts similar to Bloglines. Something neat I found in this tool was the ability to post clips of a user’s favorite items on their own blog. Google offers users a cute little div that can be placed on a blog or website.
Overall, I probably won’t be switching to Google Reader anytime soon. I feel that Bloglines has far surpassed my expectations and continues to be quite useful. I will, however, consider using Reader as a backup just in case Bloglines crashes like it did yesterday!