Interfaces Good and Bad

I am finding the new Google Reader remarkably good. After discovering Bloglines, which allowed me to read blogs via RSS with the full text of entries laid out one after the other, I vowed never to go back to “list view,” in which one sees the headline for each entry and must click on it to see the full entry. With a triple-digits blog intake, I depend on skimming. The old version of Reader was a list-view, and hence unacceptable, but the new version has a beautifully slick scrolling full-text mode.

It also fixes one misfeature of Bloglines that drove me nuts if I fell behind—asking it to display all the new posts from a blog would dump them to my screen, marking them all read. If there are 40 or 50 new posts—as there can easily be with some of the verboser bloggers I read, after a surprisingly short break—that’s a significant investment of uninterrupted time right there. I like my blogs as a steady drip, not as huge jolts.

What Google’s new Reader does is only mark as read the posts you have actually seen with your own eyeballs. If it hasn’t scrolled onto your screen yet, it’s still unread. Genius. Just as with the grab-to-scroll maps in Google Maps and the expand-collapse conversation view in Gmail, it’s a remarkable bit of Ajaz wizardry. I hope it diffuses widely into other Web apps.

That’s the good. Now for the bad. every single one of the applications I use regularly has an icon that is predominantly blue. There are touches of yellow, white, black, and brown, but blue is overwhelmingly the most common color. Even iTunes, which I am accustomed to thinking of as green, is now blue. I suppose this is partly my fault, for preferring those apps that have blue icons (even if for utterly unrelated reasons), but it makes it harder than necessary for me to tell them apart when I command-tab back and forth between them.

for those who don’t use readers and find white text on black causes migraine trails, would you mind making the contrast on your site a bit milder? i’m down with the symbolic aspect — but maybe go with commie red and white? or venezuelan yellow, blue, and red?