paul bennett

The problem with Newshutch

Posted on: October 29, 2007

Waiting for Newshutch….

Months ago, I stumbled upon Newshutch – an online RSS reader built by the same people who gave us the excellent Tiddlywiki.

Having struggled with RSS reader software both on and offline, Newshutch was an absolute joy to use. It was simple, fast, usable and well laid out. It made using Google Reader feel like driving a Lada after spending a week in a late model Mercedes. There were a couple of things I wanted to see changing but for me it was close to perfect. Newshutch was one of the few services on the web I’d have gladly paid a subscription to use.

Then it stopped working.

I was confused, their blog was little help, and, as you can see from the comments on this entry a lot of other people were less than happy.

The Newshutch response was:

“We had more downtime than expected yesterday and today as we moved to a new host. But we’re up now. We’ll post more about the move to Joyent after a few days of experience with it.”

That was September 30th.
Fair enough that moving to a new host will cause some issues, but this was a month ago. That’s a long time, especially given the amount of other services users can turn to in this age of web application proliferation.
The key issue that has frustrated users hasn’t primaily been the service, but the lack of communication shown by Newshutch developers.

People love using Newshutch so much they’re willing to put up with bad / slow service as long as they know that:

  1. someone’s working on resolving it
  2. it will end sometime in the (hopefully near) future
  3. the end result will be as good or better than what they were used to

It would be sad to see such a great service fade away due to lack of attention, but I fear that’s what is happening to Newshutch.

Lessons:

  1. Monetise your applications

    Would more developer attention be paid to Newshutch if the service had a business model? You bet. Having service problems negatively affect the bottom line certainly helps a business realise the impact of service issues. Newshutch has ample opportunities for advertising.
    Given the passionate user base, Newshutch could have also sold premium services subscriptions (similar to what 37Signals do with Backpack) to gain revenue.

  2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

    Newshutch would have undoubtedly kept more users if they’d communicated with them. Notices could have been pushed to the front page of the application (to make all users aware of the service issues), new sign-ups could have been postponed (what’s the point signing up new users if their experience is going to be appalling?), and, at the very least, regular updates could have been posted on their blog (I’m talking daily – monthly is not regular).

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1 Response to "The problem with Newshutch"

[…] 30th, 2007. OK, that’s a bit rough – Google Reader isn’t that bad, and after the Newshutch fiasco I’ve needed to find another online RSS reader […]

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