Yesterday Roland wrote about Rojo (it’s, it’s…nope, it’s in beta, too), a Web-based RSS aggregator plus cheap-and-cheerful social software network. It looks to me like Bloglines met Friendster on a rainy rooftop and smoked some Flickr and del.icio.us tags. Here’s the official company line:
Rojo is a free, web-based service dedicated to helping information consumers efficiently discover, organize, read, and share dynamic content–such as online news and weblogs. Rojo enables users to easily search and subscribe to feeds (sometimes called RSS or Atom feeds) published by online content sites, blogs, discussion boards, and various corporations. Rojo helps users identify what content is most useful for them personally and Rojo’s community-building features enable users to easily share relevant content with friends and colleagues.
I can kind of see what they’re getting at, but I’m not sure it’s the right approach. Has the market demonstrated that it wants all-in-one info-sharing, social networking solutions? I don’t think so. The most useful and least faddish services are the specialized ones:
Their generalist predecessors–Friendster,
nifty to play with, but are, practically speaking, utterly useless. You can
find me on all of the services (well, I canceled my Friendster account after
incident–no great loss there), but I’m only active on the first three.
It seems to me that Rojo is trying, needlessly, to be all things to all people.
The people don’t want that.
In terms of functionality, I’m underwhelmed.
- It’s impossible, at a glance, to determine which items are from which from
which feeds. The feed name (more important than the item title, as far as
I’m concerned) is in a tiny font below the item title.
- There’s no indicator of read or unread. Or if there is one, it isn’t nearly
- They only permit about 20 characters for a feed name, truncating longer
ones with ellipses. 20 characters isn’t nearly enough. Dispense with the nearly-unused
right hand column and expand the left. Alternately, let me set the width of
each column. Bloglines may look kind of hokey, but I can drag the frame edge
to wherever I want it.
- When I imported my OPML file, I got a message that 236 feeds were imported
successfully, and 20 failed. Check out this
screenshot. There was no indication of which 20 failed, or why. 90% isn’t
good enough, but how can I fix the problem when they don’t articulate the
issue? Incidentally, I checked, and my OPML file is valid.
- Their user documentation is awful. The "comprehensive
guide for what’s in Rojo" is a mere 3500 words, and makes the classic
engineers-wrote-the-docs mistake. Instead of articulating how to use the product,
they explain what the product does by itemizing each menu, tab and button.
They do have a FAQ, but it’s hard to read, unsearchable and could use a good edit (and some illustrations). By the way, questions like “Is it free?” and “What are those “+” & “-” icons and the arrows in the left navigation bar?” don’t belong on the same page. One’s a sales question, and the other is a tech doc issue. Use the FAQ for the basic user and sales stuff, and then make proper documentation for the app. Rojo, hire us
to fix this problem. Better yet, check out Flickr. They basically have no
documentation. Why? They don’t need it–a shaved, amnesiac baboon could use
Maybe I’ll come around on Rojo too, but for now, I’m not seeing the killer
app. I’m not even seeing the bludgeoning app.