in Blogging, Tools

In my last post…. I shared how to utilize your smartphone on LinkedIn. I also shared some of the apps that can increase your productivity. If you’re a designer, you better need to check what’s trending. That can only happen if you keep following some of the feeds, particularly on design, from some of the popular sources.

My friend, @Saikat asked me a question, “How do we prioritize what to read and what to leave.” And that’s how I came up with this post.

In this post, I’ll show you one of my secrets; how to spend not more than 10 mins using Feedly reader along with its companion pocket or readability app to get the most out it.

And the best thing is that you don’t need to spend a single penny.

Problem with the current scenario

No doubt, we get excited to start using an app once it’s downloaded to your favorite mobile phone, isn’t it!

If you search “Reader” on iOS app store, you will come up with more than 2k results. But, if you search “News Reader,” you will come up with more than 900 apps.

How will you judge which one is the best reader? And that’s why you refer some of the “app review” articles by tech bloggers. It’s simple..

Just type out something like…”Top news reader apps for iOS or Android” on Google search. The results on the first page of Google is more relevant and this is somewhat recommended by Google. I’m not talking about how keyword algorithm works with Google in this article.

You’ll see “10 Best iPhone News and News Reader Apps via The Next Web,” which was published in 2013 and still listed on top of the search listings on Google. However, you’ll come to see 10 different news reader apps starting from Flipboard, Circa, Pulse, Zite, Google Play, etc. Have you ever imagined…

Why we delete some of the news reader apps in the end?

When you install one of the news reader apps by knowing it’s one of the best, but you still don’t like it. Because there are reasons behind it. For instance, though you like some of the articles of The Next Web, Smashing Magazine, or A List Apart, etc., but you don’t like to read all articles from their sources, do you?

It’s the same case even with LinkedIn’s Pulse.

Let’s look at another app called Flipboard

Some of the news reader apps are pretty awesome when it comes its intuitive interface such as Flipboard; you feel like flipping through a real digital magazine feel. Because it’s the core essence of Flipboard that sets it apart from the rest of the news reader apps.

But, there are couple things that are missing especially when you have more than 100+ feeds to manage and decide which one to view first. You have to keep going back & forth and keep flipping. And that’s why I removed Flipboard from my device. Though it’s one of the best apps if you love to view latest photos from 500PX, or some of the art/design inspirations.

If you’re one of the business users or don’t have much time to explore then Flipboard is never going to help you.

A stage in between the problem and solution

You’re bound to read each and every new post when you subscribe or add their web address into your favorite news reader app. As a result, all your home news feeds are flooded with all posts.

And you tend to see only 2-3 relevant posts after going trough several posts that are useless to you. Finally, you remove the app from your device, in most cases.

You’re not new to know this, “for optimum performance you need to customize your system;” no matter what OS/device you use.

The solution is right here with us

A best reader app is something that can help you to organize the content as you want it and not vice-versa. Even though you have one of the best reader apps, you need to spend some time to leverage its settings to get the most out of it. If it can do that, I bet you’ll always love this app for sure.

Yes, the reader app I’m going to talk about today is called Feedly.

Please don’t make faces, if you’re using other apps similar to Feedly, you can follow the same process if the app allows you to do that.

Now, I’ll take you through how to customize Feedly. In the end, I’ll also show you how to accelerate Feedly by using Pocket/Readability.

Shall we?

Get started with Feedly

Time to simplify the process to make your reading experience better.

Set up your content curation workspace.

You can utilize the most out of these apps if you know how to set up in the right way.

Login with Feedly via Desktop (Skip to the next step if you’re already registered/logged in)

Once you’ve installed Feedly Mobile app, don’t do anything. We need to configure everything on the desktop. Open your favorite explorer and got to www.feedly.com.

log-in-feedly

From Feedly’s home page, click on the login button and connect with one of the social media accounts; Google or Facebook. It’s quite easy.

Note! Just remember one thing while connecting with the social networks. For instance, if you connect with Google, Feedly will retain all your customizations, feeds, etc., based on your google account.

Once you’re connected, you will land on Feedly’s home feed; your address bar would look just like this https://feedly.com/i/my, or the screenshot below.

add-feeds

Now, there are 4 ways you can add content to Feedly: by using keyword followed by a hashtag (i.e. #research), Website Title (The Next Web), Website URL, or select categories from the Editor’s Choice (It’s nothing but based on the #keyword based categories) bellow.

*I would not recommend you to go for the 4th option/Editor’s choice as you know…

We need a clutter-free news feed. That’s right!

Secret 1: Add feeds from your popular sources.

We need to add a list of known sources that you have been referring for a while. For example, let’s add Smashing Magazine by either typing out its name or full web address, “www.smashingmagazine.com,” and you’ll see the following feeds.

select-feed

If you add the first one that says, “Smashing Magazine,” you’re going to subscribe all of its feeds including Coding, Developer’s Toolbox, Ux Design to Mobile.

But, let’s say you’re a user experience designer, and you’re going to keep up with only UX news, then click on the 4th one; “Smashing Magazine » UX Design.” That’s it. Click on it, you’ll see the following screen as shown here.

add-to-feedly

Now, click on the green +feedly button on the top to add this feed. Feedly will ask you to put this feed into an auto-suggest category/collection called “UX” on the left as shown below.

Follow the same process for the rest of your favorite sites/blogs.

create-feedly-category

Wait! Did you see another unchecked box called “Must Read“? And what does that do? Well, this is one of the best features of Feedly. When you check this box, this feed is gonna be part of your favorite news feed sources and will be shown under “Must Read” followed by a ★ icon on the top of your sidebar of your Feedly.

The bellow screenshot is my current Feedly dashboard. You can see a number of categories/collections I’ve created (just like we did for UX category before) and listed on the sidebar.

showing-all-feedly-categories

Did you notice, all category names are customized rather than using Feedly’s auto-suggested names as discussed before.

Sometimes manual process rocks, and I’ll show you how.

Let’s look at a context down here.

Let’s say I wanna add a new “UX Research” feed from a new source. I typed out “UX Research,” and found a site called “Remote UX Research.” Great! I click on the site, clicked on the +feedly button.

Now Feedly suggested me to add this feed “Remote UX Research” under the title of “UX.” Nothing wrong in that as everything falls or part of UX, isn’t it!

But, I can’t keep on adding all related fields such as UI, Visual Design, Information Architecture, Personas, StoryTelling, etc., under UX. Because it’s way overwhelming especially when you want to keep up with the latest “UX Research” news feed rather than the whole UX, isn’t it!

So I renamed the category as “UX Research” and clicked the Add button.

You must be facing with one of the problems as shown down here.

problem-existing-feed

It happens when you add all UX related feeds into “UX” category or collection. Please make sure you refine/rename before adding them.

You will save a lot of time while searching for a particular news feed.

You can also quickly search new feeds by using the tiny search field located on the top-right section on your Feedly dashboard as shown here.

quick-feedly-search

Secret 2: Organize/reorganize your feeds

This is really good for all existing Feedly users. Let’s say you have added a lot of similar feeds into one particular collection or category called “blogging” as shown in the screenshot below.

organize-feedly

Now, by clicking on the “Organize” link, listed on your sidebar, you can organize a lot of stuff such as.

  • Rename a category
  • Move a Feed from one category to another one
  • Rearrange the categories by just dragging them
  • Remove unused feeds or even a category

If you think some of the existing feeds are bloating your “Must Read” section, just click on the tiny edit icon next to a particular feed (i.e. Design Milk in this screenshot) and uncheck the “Must Read” section from your sidebar of your Feedly.

how-to-organize-feeds

You can also remove this feed from its existing category to another one and hit the “Update” button to save.

Awesome! You’re done with your settings with Feedly desktop.

Time for you to install/run your Feedly Mobile app.

If you’re running Feely mobile app for the first time

Log in using Google/Facebook, the same account you have used for the desktop. If you somehow can’t see the changes you made on the desktop, just log out of that account and log in using another social account. For instance, if Google account doesn’t work, try with Facebook.

However, one of your accounts will get synced with the changes you have made on the desktop. You’ll start seeing all feeds + categories within your app.

If you’re already using Feedly mobile app

Just close the Feedly app, and run again. You’ll see all changes in place.

Secrets 3: While using Feedly

Adding Tags

Tags” is the good feature, you can quickly add tags to articles so that you can refer them later by just selecting that particular tag you assigned.

But how tags are different from categories! You can relate if your home is a category while furniture, utensils, buckets, bed, tv, refrigerator, etc., are going to be your tags, for an example.

But, there is a proper way to define what tags are for. Let’s say you are a software engineer. Here, the “Website Development” is a category while angularJs, NodeJs, Java, C++, PHP, .net, etc. are going to be your tags respectively.

adding-tags

Now you understand its benefits. If you look at the above screenshot of my tags (on the left), you see how I’ve segregated different entities of UX in terms of Tags; like the UX books we refer, UX modules we follow, UX case studies we read, etc.

Saving an article

Ah! If you love reading some of the articles by Neil Patel via KISSmetrics, it’s so good but way long. If you’re quite busy right now, just hit the bookmark icon/save for later so that you’ll never miss out that article.

Alternatively, you can also use Pocket or Readability icons to send these articles for offline reading; especially good for bad internet connectivity or while using a flight mode per se.

send-to-pocket

Sort your favorite sharing tools

Can you look at those top tiny and set of icons while reading an article on Feedly? I’ve customized them as per my requirements. I use buffer, twitter, email, send to pocket, etc.

feedly-preferences

To rearrange this section, you have to use the “Preferences” link from the Feedly sidebar and make changes as you want them to appear.

Test with different presentation layouts

Feedly gives 3 different layouts to view your feeds. Somehow I liked the middle one or “Magazine” layout as it gives me some visual clues along with the information to click on. Use this if you are a designer; you’ll love it.

The “Title Only” layout is a clutter-free layout. If you spend a lot of time on email, you’ll probably like this layout way better than the other two.

And the 3rd one, the “Cards” layout. It’s good for larger screens and good for people who have subscribed to a lot of photography blogs, Instagram feeds, visual quotes, etc.

feedly-display-layout

Voila! Now spend less than 10 minutes to keep up with the latest news

Since everything got set up, you don’t need to worry about any nonsense feeds on your home screen, first of all. Flip through one or two screens to get all latest news from your “Must Read” section.

For instance, if you want to find out “what’s happening with the startup industries!” just click on the startup (If you’ve created this) collection. Same thing goes for the UX, Social Media, Careers, etc., respectively.

If can also mark some of the articles/news by clicking on your favorite tools such as “Save it for later” or “Send to Pocket” and read them whenever you’re free.

Now, does it make a sense to use Feedly to keep up with the most? Let me know your views and share what you have. I’ll wait for your responses.

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