I spend a lot of time In Google Reader, probably too much, and I’ve got to tell you – it’s just plain slick. You can’t define "slick" software but you know when you’re sitting in front of it. It feels slick. A specific feature addition motivated me to type this up.
Google Reader (as far as I can remember) has always supported an Email feature that lets you e-mail a feed item. Until recently however, it wasn’t slick. Clicking Email below a feed item would pop-up a new window that just didn’t feel right. It worked and did what it was supposed to do but it wasn’t the best user experience. Recently, the Google Reader team improved the Email feature. They didn’t add new functionality – they just improved the user experience. Now, clicking Email below a feed item (the link is still in the same place) drops a nice little frame in below the feed item and before the next feed item. It’s simple, it features fields for your recipients, a subject, a short note to go along with the item, a send button, and a cancel button. And more importantly, it feels slick.
Google Reader is "slick" because the team spends time working on the finer points of usability. They didn’t have to improve the Email feature, it worked fine before, but they did and in the long-run it pays off. Google Reader is quickly becoming the preferred web-based feed reader.
Some other "slick" Google Reader features include:
Short-cut ? displays excellent Keyboard Short-cut overlay
When you Email a feed item to someone a copy is put in your Gmail "Sent Items" folder
The "To" field is connected to Gmail so "auto-complete" functionality works
(screen grab: clicking Email below a feed item drops a nice little frame in below the feed item and before the next feed item)