Digging into my Pocket

Reflections on product design, usability, and a relationship.

Not terribly long ago, my chrome tabs tended to look a lot like this:

And it could get a whole lot worse than this…

While this might make the developers out there shed a tear, the reason I had so many tabs was because that was the best way I knew of saving articles. I never seemed to have the time or attention span to read them when I was actually sitting at my laptop. Bookmarking them meant banishing them to a digital Siberia, never to be heard from or seen again. I had a problem.

So, I kept them in tabs, hauntingly sitting on the top of my browser for days or weeks. “I should get to those tabs” I would tell myself daily as my computer slowly lurched forward under the massive weight of my bloated and now barely functional chrome browser. And eventually, Chrome would crash or quit and I would lose them all together, only to restart the cycle again as soon as I reopened the browser.

Then, I found Pocket.

There had been other ‘read later’ applications around for some time, and I had used them but always forgot about them. But Pocket did something different. By focusing on syncing the shared articles across multiple platforms, suddenly I could read anything at any time, life was transformed. I didn’t have to be sitting in front of my computer, but could instead spend the 3 minutes in line for coffee getting caught up on Foreign Policy articles. All of my tabs could now be sent to a desktop app (which I assume was a great relief to both my system’s RAM and my developer friends). All the information I wanted to save to read suddenly felt liberated and free to access anywhere at anytime.

But the thing that made the difference for me was that pocket was extremely usable. One click in Chrome and content was synced across all of my devices quickly (looking at you Microsoft OneNote). Once you had it saved, you simply chose the tile, read it, tagged it or favorited it if you wanted to, and then indicated you finished it which moved it from your library to your archive. This entire process would then instantly sync with all of my devices and nothing was ever lost. Finally, saving and reading information whenever and wherever became frictionless and ubiquitous . By focusing on a specific product scope and not trying to compete the likes of Evernote or Pinterest, it fine tuned my experience and actually solved my problem.

No more endless tabs

I became a Pocket fiend.

Now, If I wake up and see the new sidebar.io email and I’m too sleepy to read about design, it has become second nature to just send the links to Pocket to read later. It has become a habit that if I see an article I’m interested in, I will immediately click chrome’s Pocket icon, even if I end up still reading it in the browser. By instantly using the app, I know that the article is safe even if my browser crashes or I’m pulled away by a friend.

And that’s the reason I keep coming back to Pocket. I am addicted to the sense of security it gives me. By crafting a meticulously designed solution to my problem, I’ve grown to trust Pocket. The experience makes me feel secure in knowing that the information isn’t lost and that I don’t have to feel pressured to read an article immediately.

For me, pocket is more than an app — it’s a relationship. Its my reliable friend who is there whenever I want to learn or be entertained. It takes the cognitive burden of remembering what to read off my mind so I can focus on other parts of my life. Without it, I don’t know how to function properly anymore.

And that’s how I know Pocket is a great product, not just a good one. The experience of using Pocket to solve my problems has engaged me emotionally to a point where I feel almost dependent on Pocket on a daily basis. Its combination of reliable, functional, and creative interfaces and technology have fundamentally changed how I interact with information and how I approach my life.

If that’s not a great product, I don’t know what is.