Friday, March 29, 2013

A Tale of 2 Feed Readers: Feedly vs. Bloglovin'

For those of you who kept up with me during Bloggiesta, you may recall that I was one of many people trying to find my replacement for Google Reader. I actually kind of hated GR, so I can't say I am too sorry to see it go. The two feed reader names I saw bandied about the most were Feedly and Bloglovin'. By the time Bloggiesta was over, I had committed to Bloglovin', rather than Feedly, though I also knew I needed more time to investigate both readers to be 100% sure. So perhaps "committed" is a strong word to use there, haha.

After finally having some time intermittently throughout the week to take a closer look at both readers, guess what -- I've changed my mind and plan to go with Feedly! Both readers allow you to easily import your Google Reader feeds, so in that respect you're in luck either way. Now I'm going to tell you what ultimately led me to choose Feedly after initially warming up to Bloglovin'. Don't worry, I'm not going to go into the nitty-gritty how-to's (at least, I'll try not to bog things down), more just sharing my impressions and preferences...

The first reader I logged into was Feedly and this was the first screen shot I saw after importing my feeds, and I was immediately turned off (you can click on the image to view the full size):

The navigation wasn't clear -- I could see you could change the layout, mark articles as read, and refresh the feeds (top right under the green bar), but where the heck was everything else? Well, there was a little pop-out menu that you can find at the top left, see those three bars? It expands out when you hover the cursor over it. That's where you can see your category labels, do your sorting, and take care of other maintenance. But I will get into more of that later... This opening screen just made my eyes glaze over and really turned me off of Feedly so I went right over to Bloglovin'.

Now, if you have a blog, you should go ahead and register it on Bloglovin' even if you don't plan on using the reader itself. In fact, you will probably find, as I did, that you already have a few people subscribing to your blog through Bloglovin', so why not go ahead and claim it? It was an easy process to do, so it's worth the little bit of time you'll have to spend to claim it and perhaps put a button in your sidebar to make it easy for others to subscribe to your blog, like this one:

Follow on Bloglovin

They have plenty of different button styles available (I happen to like bigger buttons so they are more visible), so it's up to you and what works with your preferences! So, anyway, here's what you first see when viewing the reader on Bloglovin':

Pretty!! There's a navigation bar on the left that lets you see your category folders for your blogs, there are images and snippets from the blog posts in the main feeder, and you can adjust your settings using the drop-down menu in the top right by your name and picture. It was just more aesthetically pleasing -- you know what they say about the importance of first impressions! I was sold at this point and had pretty much hung Feedly out to dry. I even went to the effort of re-categorizing my blogs (a simple drag and drop, but time consuming if you have a lot of blogs to move). This is something I had been needing to do in Google Reader, but never bothered because I had basically been avoiding reader for months (bad, I know).

At that point, I said 'I do' to Bloglovin', patted myself on the back, and thought I had solved my blog reader problem. Now it was time to get the apps for my iDevices -- I have both an iPhone 4S and an iPad... This is where my relationship with Bloglovin' began to get rocky (man, this relationship didn't even last as long as Kim Kardashian's marriage!)... The app just didn't DO much. Navigating blogs was a little tedious and it just wasn't a particularly savvy interface. Of course, at the time, I was playing with it on my phone and I thought that maybe I would be better off on my iPad. That's when I discovered the kicker... The app isn't optimized for the iPad. Um, hello?? How can you have an app for reading and NOT have it optimized for a tablet?? Time for a trial separation from Bloglovin' and in the meantime I've already begrudgingly turned to Feedly for support...

I can't say that my commitment to Feedly came easily. I had to drag myself there kicking and screaming, and even now I'm not totally in love with the interface on website, and I do a lot of my blog reading on my laptop. However, I do also like to use my iPad for reading and here Feedly was the clear winner -- their app is optimized for both the iPhone and the iPad. Not to mention that the user interface is just a little slicker than Bloglovin's. Feedly has clearly put more effort into their mobile app, which I know is important to a lot of you out there.

EDITED TO ADD: I just discovered on my desktop monitor that if you can expand the browser wide enough, the menu actually shows up in full on the left! I also completely forgot to share the image of the Feedly website once I realized how I could tweak the appearance so my eyes would no longer glaze over. (Thanks to Ali, whose comment below reminded me of this.) You can also see how the left navigation menu now shows up. I currently have this set on "magazine" view, though I also like "cards", which Ali mentioned in her comment -- it reminds me a bit of Pinterest and the way pins show up on the main page...

My biggest issue with Feedly is that it is very difficult to move blogs to different categories if you have to move a large number. (ie. when you are first setting up your account. After that, it's not so cumbersome.) I tweeted about my frustration and I will say that the @Feedly account saw it (even though I hadn't tagged them) and actually responded! Their response didn't really help my problem, and they acknowledged that, but it was nice that they took the time to respond -- and unsolicited, at that. It was another blogger who clued me in that Feedly and Google Reader are tied together (until GR's ultimate demise) and that you can make changes in GR that will transfer over to Feedly (thanks, Ti!) So, by now it should be obvious that I was ready to divorce Bloglovin' if I was willing to go back to GR and move blogs around to new categories. That's exactly what I did, though! I did find that I had to log out and log back into Feedly to see my changes, just in case any of you try the same thing and don't see your changes when you go back to Feedly.

And so for now, I have committed to Feedly...

In the end, Feedly is just much more robust than Bloglovin', particularly when looking at apps for mobile devices. I think that Feedly's website could use some work as some functions just aren't that intuitive, but I have noticed just in the last week they have made some tweaks to how the site works. It would be nice if they would offer some "follow this blog" options like buttons, etc., similarly to how you can claim your blog and promote it on Bloglovin'. I'm sure that both readers will improve over time, especially as more people become reliant on them for their daily blog reading. So for now, it's up to you as to what you prefer and how much you are looking to get from your blog reader...

I'm curious, who out there has committed to a new blog reader? What have your impressions been? Is there another reader you prefer besides these two? Feel free to leave a comment and add to the discussion!!

*Be sure to check out the comments that have already been added, as they bring up other excellent points that I forgot to address in this post! Thanks to all who are adding to the discussion!


  1. This was very helpful, and answered a question I had, which was can I claim my blog in Bloglovin without committing to using it myself. Thanks!

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful! I, too, like the fact that I can claim my blog on Bloglovin' with no commitment, lol.

  2. I did about the same thing you did--started with Feedly, didn't love it. Switched to Bloglovin, thought it was going to work, then got cold feet. My deal-breaker was the fact that Bloglovin only seems to store a maximum of 3 unread posts per blog. So, blogs that I haven't read for months, which have 46 unread posts, showed up as 3 unread posts, and that was all I could view within the reader. Not going to work! So, I'm back at Feedly for now.

    After playing with Feedly's interface I've been able to make it pretty, so that it shows the previews of blogs, complete with pictures. It took me a while to find "preferences" (you have to scroll down on the left side, but the scroll thingy doesn't even show up until you hover over it--so silly!) and then there are different default views you can choose from (I'm using "cards" right now, and I love it).

    1. Ali, you made other excellent points that I forgot to address in my original post. I did have to go back and show my new "after" screen shot of Feedly, but I had forgotten about Bloglovin's 3-unread-post maximum per blog. Definitely annoying!

      By the way, I did discover if you are able to stretch your browser wide enough, that left-hand navigation menu actually stays visible (and I edited my post to point that out, too).

      Thanks so much for adding your thoughts!!

    2. Feedly doesn't thrill me; I found Bloglovin hard to navigate, so I've pretty much decided on The Old Reader

    3. I haven't heard of The Old Reader -- I'll come check out your post to learn more!

  3. I am using Feeddler - have been using it for a while. At the moment it is pulling in from Google reader but they are in the process of becoming independent. I am very happy with Feeddler I am. To sure if it has a web presence have never actually looked - but it works mighty fine with my iPad. I have feedly as well which I am trialling. Not very happy with it and I didn't think it had a web presence

    1. I had the Feedler app for a little while and it actually wasn't too bad, but I just didn't really get that into it for some reason. I don't know if they have a web presence either -- I came across it in the app store when I was looking for something else. I may take a look at it again, though, just to make sure I'm covering all my options!

  4. I've decided to move to Feedly as well. I was really frustrated with it at first (though not as frustrated as with Bloglovin) but after a bit of playing with it I think I have it mostly figured out and it should be just as easy as Google Reader was.

    Curious--why does one need to claim the blog on Bloglovin? Is there a reason?

    1. I agree -- Feedly takes some getting used to, but ultimately I think it beats Bloglovin'.

      I don't guess one NEEDS to claim their blog, but they offer the option, so I guess I would do it to make sure someone else doesn't try to (I mean, they'd have to manage to hack into your blog account to paste code into the blog, so it probably isn't likely, but still). I guess it also gives you the option to make the follow buttons you can put in your blog.

      So, it's not mandatory by any stretch of the imagination, but I figured when I was there, why not just go ahead and claim mine? :-)


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