I have recently spent some time testing the Flipboard application for iPad. Flipboard is an innovative iPad application that integrates some of your Social Media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, with some popular websites in a virtual magazine format. The app looks gorgeous – boasting clean lines and plenty of white space. The transitions from page to page are designed to look like you are actually flipping pages (similar to iBooks). Sadly, in its current form, Flipboard just is not meeting my needs.
Simply put, Flipboard is focused on content consumption than content creation. There is nothing wrong with making an app for content consumption as some would argue that is the iPad’s sole purpose, but it’s hard to feel “efficient” while using it. Flipboard has taken my main social media accounts (except my blog) and haphazardly placed them in a magazine format. That in itself isn’t a dealbreaker, but it makes it harder for a user to follow conversations and search for individual content.
In addition, there are some mildly frustrating features that break up the clean experience. I am disappointed by the fact that users are unable to compose original tweets from this application. While you can reply to someone’s post and edit statements into new tweets, the process is very complex. Retweeting can also be frustrating. When selecting items to retweet, a user is unable to view and edit the message before sending. I have also found there to be limited support for picture previews so occasionally, where pictures are supposed to be, users are left with a large white space. Users are also unable to simply pull up a larger preview. In order to increase the size, you must first tap the area to bring it up, but then also click the link to view it in a browser. Something more fluid would make this application increasingly user-friendly.
Organization of social media is another area of need in this application. I use various applications for social media and each is designed in a linear, easy to read format. Reading Flipboard after using applications such as Tweetdeck and Echofon Pro makes it seem disorganized. When reading a magazine, the format stays fairly consistent through the pages, but in Flipboard each page has a different layout and the inconsistency leaves users feeling perplexed. Upgrades such as consistency need to be made so users can understand how to use the application and what they are reading.
This application is far from useless, but significant upgrades do need to be made. The following are my suggestions of how to make Flipboard a more user-friendly application.
- Make a logical progression on each page within a “chapter”. Clockwise, top to bottom, whatever you choose- make it consistent and keep consumers informed. If I can follow my timeline from page to page it makes it easier to understand ongoing conversations from my friends. These aren’t quotes from a bunch of random people; they are ongoing stories that interconnect at times.
- Add a button up top for a new tweet or post.
- For media that isn’t supported by Flipboard itself, make it simpler for users to link to the browser directly within the page. The browser will never go away but make it seamless as possible.
- It is inefficient to devote space to media that is not supported by the application. If the media isn’t supported, cap the size of the cell.
- Allow for additions of other websites and blogs. If other websites or blogs are not allowed, tell users why that is the case.
- Make further customization within a “chapter” possible. For instance, currently I am unable to view a specific list within my Twitter “chapter” or a certain group of friends within my Facebook “chapter”. Adding further customization options would help encourage me to use Flipboard as my main portal for Social Media.
Flipboard has a lot of potential. For an iPad application in its infancy stage, it has made a great first effort in being the go to source for social media and web content. With some additional upgrades to the platform, I truly believe this application has the potential to be used widely. This platform has promise to do what none has done before – integrate social media, websites, and user-created content into one well-organized, easy to use application. Hopefully, Flipboard will continue to upgrade their software and make this application more accessible to all types of users.
I didn’t read any reviews on Flipboard before I wrote this. I downloaded Flipboard as a regular consumer via the App Store- I was not provided a copy to review from Flipboard themselves. The views expressed here are my own. You can find the Flipboard application in the Apple App Store. Flipboard is also on Twitter at @flipboard