Flipboard for the Web

Catch up on the stories and people that matter to you.

#5 Product of the DayFebruary 12, 2015
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Cool. Let me know what you think. Just beginning this journey on the web with lots more to come soon.
I'm surprised Flipboard didn't have a web version until now. Was it simply a decision of focus, @mmccue, or are there other factors that lead you to expand?
@rrhoover I actually really appreciate that question from a fellow founder and product guy. The thing I don't think many people appreciate about building products that aspire to be great is that it takes raw courage. Courage to make the best, sometimes counter intuitive call for the product against the backdrop of an ever more intricate nest of dependencies as you grow (previous releases, revenue, team, stakeholders, partners, industry trends, engineering debt, design dilemmas, cash flow, quality, competitors, and even portions of your own user base). If you're a founder who has lost lots of sleep trying to make the right call for a product that could simultaneously lead to some potentially negative implications down the road, then you know what I'm talking about. In our case, we wanted to build Flipboard on the web from day 1. After all, Flipboard is a service, not an app. And it belongs on the web. But no matter how hard we pushed it was just not a product experience that we felt was going to be truly great. I believe that the best way to ship a great product is to NOT SHIP A MEDIOCRE PRODUCT, *no matter what*. This is much, much easier said than done. One of the keys to operating this way is to surround yourself with people who think the same way so that they will support the occasional defining decision to punt a lot of work and start over (like Pixar has sometimes decided to do). So for the first few months of our startup life we really struggled, unsure of the path to creating the kind of product we wanted. Having been way ahead of the technology curve in the past, I grew increasingly worried that I was pushing us to do something that was basically impossible to do with the web at the time. And when we considered the compromises we'd have to make to ship, we kept coming back around to a product that would have been just ok... mediocre. But then we started hearing about this mythical tablet from Apple. One day, as these rumors were building, my team and I sat down and had this realization that if this tablet was basically a larger iOS device, we could do everything we had wanted to do on the web and more. This proved to be a massive breakthrough in the way we thought about the product and our company. Not only did it allow us to unleash all our creativity, the notion of a tablet brought our overall vision into much clearer view. Suddenly we weren't just building a web site that borrowed heavily from the timeless principles of print, now we were building something entirely new: a social magazine. We felt like this could be a whole new category of product that we could uniquely own. Our imagination ran wild and the ideas we came up with during this moment of clarity have fueled us to this day, with many of these ideas still yet to ship. It was a courageous bet to make on a still unannounced platform but we went all in and it turned out to be awesome. Meanwhile, as we were growing as a mobile only company, we kept pushing on the web. I think it would be bad if we evolved to a world where apps ruled and the web was irrelevant. I don't believe in that world. The first principles of the web are core to the future of content, media, journalism, innovation and even startups. The web removes barriers so that great but unknown product leaders, writers, artists etc can get discovered, shine and have impact. I think what we are witnessing now is the webification of apps and the appification of the web. In other words, I see a very bright future for the web as the best elements from both worlds converge. We are at the dawn of something really big here. Fast forward to today and we finally have something we're proud of on the web, both on the desktop and on mobile (our team has a great post on our eng blog about how we addressed some of the tech challenges) There are still tons of compromises we had to make, places in the product that still make me wince a bit, and lots more work to do but it was clear to us we had finally managed to capture the core essence of what we're trying to be wrapped in an experience that we like now and will only get better. Most of all though, I'm proud that our team had the courage to persevere, punt, rewrite, redesign, delay, and reset as necessary so that we did not ship a mediocre product.
It's pretty awesome to see Flipboard come to the web. @mmccue, why open each article in a new tab instead of some sort of an iframe?
@tokudu good question. We are thinking thru this and will be experimenting with folks like National Geographic and Fast Company in the coming weeks. Whatever we do here has to work for the publisher and the user experience. Stay tuned
@mmccue Right, I can see how some publishers would not be as cool with having their content embedded
+1 for the above. It's a minor, but real, bump to have to click forward to a story and then back to add it to a magazine. I guess toolbars and frames are like totally 1998; is there a 21st-century functionality that would allow this? Otherwise, I'm really digging this Web implementation of the excellent mobile app.
I haven't used this much yet but was excited to see it as recently I have been curating a lot into Flipboard magazines and will be great to be able to have a web option as I love using it on mobile.