If you’re as addicted to keeping track of new digital products as we are, you might have seen our press release this afternoon that announced the official launch of WPSR Mobile for iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, and Kindle Fire.
As the interaction designer on the Labs team, I thought it might be helpful to highlight for readers a few nifty features of the mobile design that offer new ways of interacting with Social Reader’s streams of information.
The first we call “Social Navigation”: we’ve designed the entire app experience to foreground friends as the primary route to discovering new stories. Our friends icon indicates how many of your Facebook friends have read a particular story – just tap it to see who has been reading the article.
Users can also see if their friends have read a particular story any time they arrive at an article page. Friends’ photos appear alongside the byline and source attribution. Displaying this “social source” helps users figure out if they’re interested in reading an article based on who else has read it.
It’s easy for users to find all of their friends who are active on Social Reader. We placed a friends button in one of the sweetest spots of all: the top right corner of the navigation bar.
Tapping this button shows a user his friends, in a highly visual tile view, as well as a list of the most recently read articles; to see all the articles a particular friend has read, just tap on the individual user. We know from speaking with Social Readers that they love to discover what their friends are reading so we’ve deliberately made this discovery process as simple as possible.
One cool part of this interface, that I hope will be adopted across many mobile apps, is that, in addition to the friend a user chooses to see, she will see photos of friends that appeared adjacent to them in the tile view. We call this the NEWS pattern for North, East, West, South – but also because we like news. If a user accidentally taps the wrong person, often referred to as “fat finger” problem, we show them the friends they may have meant to tap as next best choices visible alongside the person they selected.
This fun little feature is just one example of a design strategy we used throughout the app – making other perspectives on content available so that users rely less on menus and have more fun exploring!
The last thing I’ll point out is how we’ve designed for recency. In a mobile context, readers are often wondering, “What’s just happened?” or “What’s new since last time?” To help show users what’s fresh, we’ve added indicators to every list and a refresh button so they can check for new articles and reads.
We are really looking forward to hearing what readers think about the new WPSR Mobile, and would love to hear from you. Leave a comment here, or shoot us an email, and let us know your thoughts!