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A seamless RSS experience


In our graduate-level design class (where I was an undergraduate), Interaction Design Practice, our team designed an RSS reader that was integrated into the Mozilla Firefox browser which created a seamless experience between the reader itself and the content.

UReader by John Wayne Hill

Design Process

We began our process by researching and actually using current RSS readers. We researched several different programs and applications and critiqued their strengths and weaknesses. Using our target audience we created personas to help guide our design and user research.

Our team started out brainstorming multiple ideas to approach the problem space. We then sketched out several iterations of our most promising ideas. We meet several times to discuss our sketches. Suddenly we realized that we had not solved the core of our problem through our sketches and ideas. We decided to then throw out all of our previous work and start fresh. With this new understanding of our core problem, we tackled sketching with a new passion. With our new sketches in hand, we began discussing and creating a prototype.

Using our new prototypes we asked a couple of users within our target group to test our design. Our users helped us to understand what problems our design had and gave us interesting insights into the user’s cognitive model of our RSS reader.

Near the end of the project, our professor threw a curveball at our class. He was now asking us to take our RSS reader application and additionally design it for the iPhone. Our professor wanted us to be ‘computer imaginative’ and really exploit the iPhone’s affordances and features. Our final design encompassed a transparent RSS reader that allowed easy navigation between unread posts and unread blogs. Our final iPhone design took iPhone standard user interface guidelines into account and utilized some of the iPhone unique features.

Final Concept

Our browser-based design incorporated the RSS reader directly into the browser. It contained a new icon for the feature which was the standard RSS icon. This icon had a drop-down menu that included four items: Next Unread Item, Previous Item, All Unread Items, and All Items. The reader also included a standard list view of posts from sites and blogs to which the user has subscribed. Users can easily navigate between different sites in which they have unread posts. Our application also allows for easy viewing and posting of comments.