Last night I downloaded Zite 2.0 with a lot of excitement to see what user interface (UI) changes they had made. I’ve always been a fan of the application, because of the value of their news algorithm but the user experience was lacking. Here is my take on the changes that I’ve observed so far.
The new branding was a surprise. My concern is that it reminds me of a slightly plumper Hootsuite owl and I’m not sure if users will connect the wise bird with great tag line of “Curious? Discover Your Interesting.” Cats are curious, owls are wise!
This was done really well. Upon opening the application I was relieved to see some help in explaining all the UI changes. What was unique and I applaud was the use of animation with the arrow indicators. Nice work Zite team!
Setup and exploring information
Setting up the application in version 1.0 wasn’t difficult, but you could easily stumble on it again after your initial setup. This problem was remedied by creating the “Explore” section which allows you to personalize your news feed or add popular topics. It has a nice design, using background color contrast to let users know they have entered a different mode of the application.
Previous navigation was not easy to use, forcing users to swipe through a Rolodex of topics and it felt like a “Wheel of Fortune of what topic you would stop at. This has been addressed with a more industry standard list of topics that users can choose from with confidence and simplified the user journey of explore their favorite topics.
News feed (Top Stories)
From the start, the Top Stories section has always been a very useful section. Zite 2.0 does not disappoint with this feature. Users can now clearly see what stories they have “Liked” or “thumbs up” and any articles that are “Disliked” fade with a slight transparency allowing user to focus on the next article.
View articles, accessibility enhancements
When viewing an article in Zite 2.0, features no longer require a tap to view. Many times I found myself trying to “Like” an article and accidentally tapping a link in the article I was viewing. Those days are gone now! The reader view is fast and clean and I really like the accessibility enhancements that were added. My one concern is that if I accidentally block a source, is it easy to unblock it? I’m afraid to use the feature honestly. Perhaps separating useful accessibility features and administration features would be a good suggestion?
My one love of Zite has been the ability to share articles on Google+ and other social platforms. I was so disappointed to see that Google+ was no longer a part of the sharing suite. I immediately sent feedback to Zite and got a response from Brian Bejarano. He claimed that only “popular” methods were added in version 2.0, but they are open to suggestions. My take, is that Zite needs to integrate @bufferapp into their sharing features and bring back Google+ posting. What do you think? Give them suggestions: @zite
Final assessment of Zite 2.0
If you are serious about finding information that is relevant to you, then using Zite is the best application to get for iPhone/iPad users. The user interface changes in this latest installment was a leap in the user experience overall, with only a few minor pain points. I give the new UI a grade of an “A-” because of the accessibility block issue I described and the swiping feature was a bit confusing at first. The Zite development team should be extremely proud of this latest version.
Now if only this application, could live on a website? It would replace my Google Reader altogether! Something to think about Zite team.