Goodbye, Google Reader :(

Yesterday, Google announced that Google Reader will be retired on July 1, 2013. Like the rest of the internet, I’m super bummed. Someone even started a petition to keep Google Reader running.

What is Google Reader?

Google Reader is an RSS reader (it aggregates web content). I’ve been using it for years to follow blogs, webcomics, news, etc. Rather than having to check each of those individual websites everyday for new content, RSS readers pull all the new content into one location.

What alternatives are there?

I really hope Google changes its mind about Google Reader, but in the meantime, I’ve already started looking into alternatives. Some of the options I’ve come across are:

Any luck with the alternatives?

I’ve tried a few of these and Feedly is the most promising alternative for me so far. Feedly currently syncs with Google Reader (which makes switching to Feedly really easy) and they promise a seamless transition to their Google Reader clone once Google Reader goes offline. Their Android app seems sufficient, but I don’t like their web UI.

So for now, I’m going to keep using Google Reader, knowing that I can switch to Feedly in July if I don’t find anything better by then. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know! 🙂

Xaben.com Mini-Makeover

Xaben.com has recently undergone a bit of a makeover. It used to be my only personal website, so I used it as a blog + portfolio. After I acquired mariewest.com, though, I moved all the portfolio-related stuff over to that site… leaving xaben.com feeling a little awkward and empty. The aim of the makeover was to transform the site into just a blog.

Xaben.com "Before"
Xaben.com "Before"
Xaben.com "After"
Xaben.com "After"
Style-wise, I didn’t change much (though I was tempted to try a new look). The biggest change was increasing the width from 900px (not sure why it wasn’t 960px) to 1000px. 1000px might be a little overkill for my simple blog, but I wanted to try it out. There has been a bit of a push to start using 1000px widths for responsive web design. Xaben.com doesn’t take advantage of responsive web design yet, but I want its next design to be flexible and adjust to the user’s resolution.

The archive links didn’t seem useful in the old design, so I replaced them with tag links instead. I don’t know why the search bar was in the categories section, so I moved it out on its own where it made more sense. I also added a link to the RSS feed, which didn’t exist in the old design.

I also tried to improve on readability. A couple people told me that the font on the old site was too small, so I increased the font size on the new design. Ideally, websites should have 55 to 75 characters per line, which the old design was well over. The new design also exceeds the optimal number of characters per line, but it is close to the 75 to 85 range that is common practice. I personally prefer smaller font and longer lines, but I’ll go with the design experts. 😉