Another new FriendFeeder!

There are a handful of websites that I leave open in my browser all of the time: FriendFeed, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Reader. These sites all have something in common -- something we're really excited about. But before I explain the connection, I'd like to recount some history about when I was working on Gmail at Google.

What most people don't know about Gmail, is that Google worked on it for a very long time before releasing it to the world. In fact, we created at least seven distinct versions of the Gmail user interface before the product was ever released. During that time, we experimented with a lot of different interfaces and features, including much of what you see on Gmail today (and some things that never made it into the final product). However, the product never felt "ready" -- the features were there, but they were a little awkward and didn't fit together quite right. Finally, in the later part of 2003, someone new joined the team, a user experience designer named Kevin Fox. Over the course of the next several months, Kevin and the team developed a new Gmail interface (code named "fin"), and finally the features all fit together! That was the interface that we launched with, and to a large extent that is the same interface that Gmail has today (though there have been many improvements). So I'm very grateful to Kevin, because if he hadn't joined the team, Gmail may have never launched.

Eventually, Google brought several other highly talented designers onto the Gmail team, and Kevin was able to move on to other new products. His next big project was Google Calendar, and after that he went to work on the Google Reader 2.0 interface. So the connection among Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and FriendFeed is, as of today, Kevin Fox.

FriendFeed is already one of my favorite products, but we're not finished yet -- in fact, we're just getting started. We have a lot of big hopes and ideas for FriendFeed, but one of the most difficult aspects of any product is integrating all of your ideas into something simple, cohesive, and broadly appealing. That requires a talent that not many people have. Fortunately Kevin does, and we're thrilled to have him join us here at FriendFeed.

11 comments:

Sean Leather said...

All of the Google applications you mentioned also tend to stay open in tabs on my Firefox. I like my FriendFeed, but it hasn't reached that status, yet.

I don't know why that is, really. Perhaps there's too much information going by too fast. Perhaps it's because I haven't gotten my friends onto it, yet. Perhaps it's something else.

I'm looking forward to the future, though. I can see that FriendFeed has just scratched the surface and so much is possible.

Please do keep us informed through the blog (more often), if only to let us know you're still there.

Ammy said...

Seven versions before release and yet three years after release it's still in Beta? Le sigh.

Welcome Kev! Hope this works out to be a really great change for you. I look forward to watching your creative fires reach a roaring blaze again.

Justin Mason said...

holy crap -- Kevin worked on pretty much every one of my favourite web-app UIs! now that is impressive.

I've been a massive fan of all your work on GMail -- IMO it's the biggest advance in email in 10 years. nice work guys.

here's hoping something similarly revolutionary gets cooked up at Friendfeed ;)

Plan 8 said...

What Justin said.

swaroop said...

yay !.. so this is the Startup that Kevin was joining :p

Peter said...

damn, not trying to hate, but exactly how difficult is it to create an email interface?

the threading of the messages as 'conversations' - great work, but once you figure out the concept you're shooting for, how difficult is it to conceptualize something that works?

Thomas Armstrong said...

One blogger announced it on Saturday:
http://google.dirson.com/post/3818-kevin-fox-friendfeed-imo/

"Will Kevin Fox join FriendFeed or Imo.Im?"

Min Liu said...

awesome in every way.

Gary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary said...

Where do you find talented web UI designers like this? Very jelous.

Brian White said...

Very, very cool!