google’s redesign.

November 4, 2011

The recent changes that have been pushed out to Gmail and Google Reader are cramping my style. Sure, I hate when my habits require change. I’m a great example of users who find one way to do something and never change even if that way sucks.

Now, some good things came out of the new designs. Though, the coolest new things I’ve found were only stumbled upon because I was so annoyed I did some serious searching to figure out how to make it better. Admittedly, I also did not read either Google’s blog posts to highlight their changes. So what do I like?

  1. Sharing from Reader to Google+. This is going to be huge for me to use Google+ to any extent. Even if there were some learning obstacles.
  2. Gmail chat on the right hand side. Not actually new, but the redesign forced me to actually figure out how to do this (Gmail settings > Labs > enable Right Side Chat). Sadness only because my chat boxes now cover my list.
  3. Fancier advanced search in Gmail. Full disclosure: I never would have found this on my own except I complained about not understanding the search shortcuts and the boyfriend said they changed this. Otherwise, I never would have even seen that small grey arrow – let alone click on it.
  4. More choices in how many items I view in my different Inbox sections. While I love having priority and starred items at the top, I hated when the email I was looking for was part of “Everything Else” and not on the first page.

And of course, what don’t I like:

  1. Not seeing enough of my chat contacts. The reason I had to go digging to move the chat to the right. I’m not quite sure what happened here, but I could only see 5-7 names on my list. This is ridiculous when, alphabetically, my boyfriend is always at the bottom of the list.
  2. Fewer labels. If I extended the chat list to show me as much as possible, I hid my labels for sent item, chats, spam, and drafts. Weirdly, I use these all the time (maybe because I didn’t know how to do advanced searches). But still, if I tried to work with the chat list, it made my email experience worse.
  3. Black titles in Google Reader. Is this really a big deal? Yes. It’s much harder to focus on the one thing I’m reading. And it just doesn’t look like a link. That sounds dumb, but I actually do follow someone who’s titles aren’t links (for whatever reason) and now there’s no differentiation.
  4. +1’ing vs. sharing. Difference: +1’ing is public even if you share privately. News to me! And never would have figured this out if not motivated by the redesign. If you want to just share from Google Reader, use that share button/box in the way upper right.
  5. Profile pictures in email. Only cool if the people you email have profile picture I want to see. Not cool if you email a lot of people who don’t use Gmail, or who don’t have a profile picture. And if I’m betting I know who you are if I see your name – I don’t really need a picture to tell me.

Luckily, I never used the sharing features in Google Reader, so I can’t be annoyed that those are gone. So I’m currently still more disappointed and annoyed at the changes than impressed. What are your thoughts?

Update: Looks like I’ve got my blue titles back 🙂



  1. The increased size of the message lines was almost a non-starter for me and the new Gmail, but I figured out how to shrink them back to old levels and we’re bros again. I don’t love how HUGE the dividing lines between sections are, but I’ll survive.

    I used Share a lot on Reader and +1ing is hard when social networks are blocked so that’s a bummer, but instead I end up just emailing stories more often.

  2. I was surprised to see cross-outs in your paragraph until I read to the end. 🙂

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