Beautiful interface: Newshutch Ryan 14 Jul 2006

49 comments Latest by rickdog

Last night I stumbled onto Newshutch, a web-based RSS aggregator. I was so impressed by its clarity, execution, and style that I still feel the glow today.

Screenshot of Newshutch

The interface comes in three clear blocks. (1) A block for reading and managing feeds, (2) a block for adding feeds, and (3) the feed viewer. Blocks in an interface are like islands. People looking at the interface fly from island to island with their eyes and minds. Fewer blocks means less travel and overhead. Visitors can quickly survey the area and start having fun.

Three blocks

Interface designers sometimes focus too much on data display to the detriment of data input. People often need to type something on the tip of their memory, like a name or phone number from five minutes ago. Or in the case of Newshutch, paste a feed URL hovering in the clipboard — an invisible and uncertain place. Newshutch does well by inviting you to add feeds at anytime on the main screen.

The last thing Newshutch nailed is flow. Watch this Quicktime video to see how feeds smoothly fade in and out. Nice work!

49 comments so far (Jump to latest)

nickd 14 Jul 06

I appreciate how you guys have been reading Tufte lately, and now I see the thumb there mirroring a lot of the display methods in his past two books. That was always one of my favorite tricks of his.

Joe 14 Jul 06

Very nice. I was just looking for a web based rss reader yesterday after my HD failed and I lost all my feeds I had in Sage.

I settled for rojo after trying several of them out.

But this one is great. Thanks for the tip.

Mark 14 Jul 06

The site seemd to really have a good flow except for the sign-up process… after you fill in the sign-up form with your e-mail and password, it redirects you to the home page where you have to enter the information again to log in. Just a little bit of a pain point that should be easily fixed.

nickd 14 Jul 06

Ah, so you disallow image tags. Makes sense. Between “the” and “thumb” on my previous post was the little red “1” you have inline.

Thought I could get away with pulling a Tufte myself :)

Mark 14 Jul 06

I guess they still have some bugs to work out. I signed up for an account, added my feed and 37svn as a test. Whenever I jumped out to a link on either site and then went “back” to Newshutch, I was still shown as being logged in, but the feeds that I added were gone — oh well.

Concerning the interface design…
It, like a great preponderance of “web me too. OH!” apps, looks like Basecamp! I mean no slap to ya’ll or your products, but jumpin’ jimminy wiz I sure am ready for something that looks completely different.

Anthon 14 Jul 06

I was just looking for an alternative to Google Reader and thanks guys! You saved me from spending lots of time. This is really great!

Web application user interfaces are getting better and more amazing every day.

Another web 2.0 application that i like user inerface is I manage and store my ideas in It’s free and has a wonderful user interface.

So, my question is; why web 2.0 services have so wonderful user interfaces but those downloadable applications (scripts) lack attractive user interfaces?

Seth Thomas Rasmussen 14 Jul 06

Indeed. As nice as that design is(and it is), if you played this post like it was a new app from 37s, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

Dave 14 Jul 06

Looks cool, tried it out and it was waay too slow on my Mac under Firefox. I’ll keep an eye on it, though.

B2 14 Jul 06

Looks very clean, and the interaction flow is quite usable — when the pages actually load in less than 60 seconds without erroring out with a Rails application error.

zxspectrum 14 Jul 06

slow | buggy | themeless | original | elegant | clear | refreshing | future

rick 14 Jul 06

Looks nice if you have under 5 or 10 feeds.

CC 14 Jul 06

Looks nice, but it is too slow to be usable. Is it written in Rails?

Nate Balditch 14 Jul 06

It is in rails. I got an application error (rails) when I tried to import my OPML.

Not ready for prime time…

Edgardo 14 Jul 06

Yup they’re running it on a very slow server :(

Nathan Bowers 14 Jul 06

Uh oh, and I thought our server was running hot before :) Anybody know of a good but reasonably priced colo host? I didn’t think we’d outgrow our dedicated box in 9 days.

Thanks for the praise Ryan, it means a lot coming from someone at 37signals.

We should have an update to speed things up and fix some OPML import bugs shortly.

ceejayoz 14 Jul 06

What shall we call it when 37s brings down a site?


MMI 14 Jul 06

What shall we call it when 37s brings down a site?

37ed? (thirty-sevened)
deep-signaled, deep-sevened? (like deep sixed?)

Roben Kleene 14 Jul 06

I would add visual indication of the relationships between the different blocks to this design. 1+3 and 1+2 are related, but there isn’t a design element that makes these relationships clear. Was no one else’s initial reaction confusion while their eyes darted from “island” to “island”? (Followed by reading the contents of each block and figuring out how they are related.)

Joe Eversole 14 Jul 06

What shall we call it when 37s brings down a site?

37ed? (thirty-sevened)

In a row?

(sorry, couldn’t help myself)

Dan Grossman 14 Jul 06

So, while the site is partially down, can someone who saw it answer this for me:

How do they make money?

Jeff 14 Jul 06

The site is lacking in flow for the user though. Right away in the sign up process they ask for you name. I type ‘Jeff’, it instructs somebody has that name already.

Well of course but your unique ID is your email address not your name.

The other thing as mentioned before, the site is sooooo slow. I had to wait 3 minutes just for my login to register.

There use of AJAX is a bit off as well. You should let the user know something is happening, I don’t care if it just shows a small progress bar or a message, but you should show something to the user.

I think the site has a bit of work to do on the development side.

Don Wilson 15 Jul 06

Is it me, or does this web app look vaguely familiar? Hmmm, possibly like our favorite suite of web apps, namely Basecamp and Backpack? :)

Peter Cooper 15 Jul 06

It’s certainly slick, but I can’t work out how to read more than one feed at once! Very odd..

It’s like having an e-mail program that only lets you read mail from any one person at a time chosen from a list of people down the left. Real flow comes from the river of news and being able to read all your items from hundreds of feeds in a few minutes.

boom 15 Jul 06


Not simpple enough. Both the UI and process flow.

Adding is easy removing is hard.

Dale Cruse 15 Jul 06

I think the concept is great, but the implementation isn’t there yet. Just too slow to really use right now. I used this for a day or two but have switched back to Bloglines.

Ryan Bergeman 15 Jul 06

The login controller seems a little mucked up… Having so many non-login actions inside of it.

But indeed, a very nice looking interface.

Tom 15 Jul 06

@ Nathan

Uh oh, and I thought our server was running hot before :) Anybody know of a good but reasonably priced colo host? I didn�t think we�d outgrow our dedicated box in 9 days.

I’m confused. First you say that you have outgrown your dedicated server but ask for a good colo service. Colo is only a place to host your own server … they don’t provide you with one.

Isn’t what you want to ask, Where is a reasonably priced dedicated server provider with good system specs?

Varun 15 Jul 06

I would also like to see the feature of flagging/tagging feeds, so that it is easy to look/categorize some good articles that you read in the feeds.

Mark 15 Jul 06

Re: Anthon
Thanks for the link to Wridea Anthon, awesome. I like 37s apps a lot but there’s something about Wrideas design that oozes personality much more so than Backpack. I’d still consider it a ‘less app’ even though it has more features.

Newshutch looks brilliant too. (though that does look like a 37s app, as does a lot of the apps linked to from SVN, blinksale being a prime example)

Nathan Bowers 15 Jul 06


One dedicated box won’t cut it long term, so if we’re going to need several boxes I’m assuming it’s more economical to buy them and then colo. If you know differently, let me know.

Chris Wright 15 Jul 06

I entered an email address like [email protected] to sign up so that I can easily filter incoming emails, but the newshutch site states that isn’t a valid email address. It is valid, so I’d recommend updating your regex pattern.

Michel Christensen 16 Jul 06

It works like a charm - good colors, nice AJAX effects etc. But its way too slow, to use as a primary RSS-reader.

If the response-time gets vastly improved - sure, I would use it, but for now, I just stick to Safaris built-in reader.

Julian 16 Jul 06

Actually maybe I’m missing something basic here but I wasn’t very impressed with this tool — particularly the bug that marked everything I viewed as read straight away and showed no way of bringing them back… I’ll stick with the built-in live bookmark reader in Firefox thanks…

Ryan 16 Jul 06

On seeing the images, I immediately thought this was a post for a new 37Signals app.

Steve 16 Jul 06

At the wireframe level, I can’t figure out how this design is any different than bloglines - a mature, functional, provably scalable rss reading app. Is it just that this one has more whitespace? Or maybe that it’s “simpler” (ie. features aren’t done yet.)

Jay 16 Jul 06

It takes a lot of scrolling to read even a moderate amount of posts, and it certainly does not make good use of screen real estate. A lackluster effort at best.

Sometimes less really is just less.

James 17 Jul 06

I use bloglines, - am subscribed to about 30 feeds, but I have no complaints. It would be nice if the login form was on the main page, - but apart from that, it works great.

Newshutch is a nice proof of concept, but even the fancy effects aren’t polish, if you notice the left hand menu jumps around in size as the right hand pane disapears at the end of it’s fade.

- James

Des Traynor 17 Jul 06

I like it.

It’s as slow as a dead turtle that has been stapled to the ground, but I reckon once they sort that out I will use it.


Jeff De Cagna 17 Jul 06

Am I the only one getting a “we’re down for maintenance” message when clicking through to the site? It looks nice and I’ve been looking around for a better aggregator since RSS Searchfox went away, but I need to be able to reach it if I’m going to think about using it.

Ryan, any info on when Newshutch will be back up?

James Head 17 Jul 06

also, what’s with the web 2.0 name?! New Shutch?!! What the hell is a shutch?!!

.. (kidding).

RS 17 Jul 06

Ryan, any info on when Newshutch will be back up?

I don’t have any info about Newshutch. I just liked the UI and posted about that.

Anthony Baker 17 Jul 06

Newshutch kicks butt.

I currently use Newsfire as my default reader on OS X, but have been looking for an alternate for the web with no success.

Newshutch not only imported close to 300 feeds for me without a problem, but the UI works wonderfully. Simple, clear, exactly what I was looking for.

Also: For newsreader creators out there (like David Watanabe of Newsfire fame), Newshutch’s ability to let me view only updates from today, the past two days, past week and whatnot is wonderful. Would be great to have this feature integrated into client-based apps.

Will have to see how easy it is to drop a feed item into from Newshutch and I wish it were easier to move feeds into categories, but great job.

This is a service I’d definitely pay for.

Sunny 18 Jul 06

Hey, that’s all nice. But it choked on 50 feed OPML file :(

rickdog 23 Jul 06

it took my 480 item OPML but it can’t find content on more than half the feeds, even after giving it 4 days to work.