Irrespective of what we like to think, mention RSS to the world and a large majority will still have no idea what you’re talking about. Google Reader has definitely helped a great deal at making it easy to put RSS feeds to use, but for most, even Google Reader can seem intimidating. You could of course sit them down and show the Common Craft’s video explanation of RSS, but why even bother…you could do far worse than tell them to signup Bloglovin’.
Bloglovin’ is a Swedish startup launched in 2007 by entrepreneur founder Mattias Swenson who says site currently has over 150000 users and is growing steadily after a recent design overhaul. The most significant statistic he shares is that over 95% of the userbase is female, most subscribed to fashion sites. Now, I don’t mean to be sexist here, but I think we can all agree that technology geeks are predominantly male. The fact that this app, designed to make RSS and reading blog/news sites simple, is used primarily by women is indeed a good sign.
Once signed up, you’re greeted with a clean and simple UI, a ‘blogs’ link and a search field to start adding sites. You can start browsing blogs via the categorised database or you can head straight to search and type “the next web” or “startups” for example. Click the site name to see a profile page with recent posts, basic info about the site, how many subscribers it has, its rank, category and related sites. If you’re ready to subscribe, simply click “follow”and you’re all set.
From then on, you’ll have a tumblr like homepage full of recent posts and sidebar with (optionally) categorised list of your blogs. To read a story, click it, to favorite it for later click the heart icon, or alternatively click the ‘mark as read’ to never see it again.
Bloglovin’ is a commendable step towards making RSS and reading blogs as simple as pie and for non geeks, I would recommend it. That said, there is still a great deal still left to do before I’d do it without reservation.
The most significant peeve is the fact that once you click on a story to reader, Bloglovin’ opens a new window to read the story and if that wasn’t frustrating enough, a Digg-like bar is layered across the top of the site. That needs to be changed, and immediately – geek or non-geek, bars and new windows are a terrible feature of any site unless implemented extremely well and bring vital new functionality (see Wibiya).
There are literally millions of fantastic blogs missing from Bloglovin’s blog database. Now, I’m not implying I have the answers, but one way or another Bloglovin’s directory needs to packed to the brim with wonderful blogs and sites. At the moment, many of the categories are ghost towns. A facility to subscribe to groups of blogs, for example “best of fashion”, would also be a worthwhile feature.
Those disappointments aside, I’d definitely suggest you get your parents, wife/gf or any other non-geek onto Bloglovin. Set them up with maybe ten to twenty blogs that you think they’d enjoy,I’m quite sure they’ll grow very fond of the tool and frankly as an introduction to the world of RSS – you’d be hard pressed to find a better tool.