Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Google’s Gmail new look has problems

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, January 6, 2012

(Teaser: Be sure to share your thoughts in the poll following this entry.)

Google, the undisputed Internet search engine leader and online giant, has embarked upon a new adventure.

No, it’s not a new social media, mapping service, business document service, or cloud computing service.

And no, it’s not a new email service.

Well, not a “new” new one, per se.

Shortly after it was introduced, Google’s Gmail customer/user base quickly eclipsed Microsoft’s purchase of Hotmail Internet-based email service. And for the past 13 years, Gmail’s layout and design – their online interface – has not significantly changed. No matter in what language or nation it operated, that solitary unchangingly constant feature has been a feather in the cap of the Internet giant.

Now, all that has changed… or, at least is about to change. Or should that be “threatening to change”?

At the behest of Google’s CEO Larry Page, Google started “to roll out our latest redesign efforts…a neat little menu that enables you to switch between Google products quickly and easily. All part of our work to create a beautifully simple, intuitive user experience across Google.” The announcement was made public Nov 29, 2011 by Page on his Google Plus user page.

Yes, Google embarked upon a wholesale redesign of their online user interface. Apparently, it was rolled out before it was “ready for Prime Time.” And apparently again, it was ill-conceived, poorly designed, and even more poorly implemented.

Rather than asking users/customers’ ideas and suggestions for improvements, Google just moved forward with their own ideas. But what sane company leader doesn’t consider the customer base?

Now, the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” – otherwise known as the user base – have spoken… and have spoken loudly.

They don’t like it. Apparently, their voices are being heard – and it didn’t take long.

On Mr. Page’s G+ page one client wrote, “This does not make things simpler, it makes them more complex. With the old bar I could access my Calendar with a single click. With the new bar it will take 2 steps, I need to hover, then find the Calendar link that is revealed and click it.

Another customer wrote, “the menu items are kind of clunky and ugly.

Another customer commented their disapproval sarcastically by asking, “Didn’t we learn anything from usability design? More clicks != better. So instead of one click to launch Google+, Gmail, Calendar, Documents, Photos, Sites or Web from any Google page we now have a minimum of two clicks – one for the menu drop-down and one for the thing we want (I’m considering a hover-over as a “click” because on tablets and mobile devices it is a click, if it works at all, and on a desktop it’s a change of mouse movement direction at the least). Who put this design team in charge and can we get the old team back please?”

One customer complained that, “Other than a little bit of consistency across apps, virtually all your apps have gotten worse, not better.

Another customer acknowledged that Google neither considered nor consulted their customer base before embarking upon any changes, and wrote that “approach to rolling out new features without giving users an ability to opt out or customize their account is a disturbing trend, to say the least.

There was much sarcasm among the complaints, and they all seemed to revolve around the same themes – which sampling is mentioned above – primary among them that no one was consulted about how and what improvements might better meet their needs.

There are a variety of reasons to use Google’s Gmail online in an Internet browser, rather than using an email application, not the least of which is security – physical and virtual. Space consideration is another. Why place email on your computer’s hard drive when it’s not necessary? Sure, hard drive space has significantly increased while the price has dropped. But does that give carte blanche to storage? What about if you’re away from your computer? What then? And why not let the big computer in the sky run all the anti-virus software on the email attachments? That’d save a whole lotta’ money and time!

Anyway, this wasn’t meant to be a discussion of the benefits of using Google’s online email service, but rather a critical comparison of the time-honored version, and the “new and not-so improved” version.

In the following two screen shots below, it’s easy to see the differences.

What’re your thoughts?

Gmail's Time-honored appearance

Gmail’s Time-honored appearance

The new user interface appears below.

Gmail New and not-so improved look

Gmail’s new and not-so improved look


4 Responses to “Google’s Gmail new look has problems”

  1. MAREIA said

    It is a mistake overall, great and irreparable mistake!
    The Work, way work new look, the inner white part of the open letter, not, no, no will be corrected with a new theme.
    In an open message, everything is white, and a mess of a title, message sender, advertisements, bar translator, – no limits lines, no Color frames.
    no frames chat section.
    of the folders section, too.
    of ALL, the text is only one Color,
    icons in the editor compiling a new message, is ugly, pale, one Color (gray)

    new look – Sodom and Gomorrah.


  2. Diane said

    I have XP operating system. I cannot reply or forward…get error on page message. Also, I have to wait over a minute for the screen to scroll down wlhen I try to see the next section of my email. Very time consuming and frustrating. The old version worked so well. I have presently switched to hotmail but would really like to continue with gmail.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hi Diane! It might be time to consider using an email client, if you’re not already. That might help alleviate some of the difficulties you describe. A significant reason I don’t use Hotmail is because it is a Spam repository. Further, their User Interface & design is also quite burdensome, which neither helps. For the greatest part now, I use an email client, and have drifted away from using Google’s web interface.


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