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Google Testing Gmail Redesign 218

An anonymous reader writes "Google is testing out some big changes for Gmail. Some of the changes are: the sidebar has been replaced with a slide-in pane, the 'compose' button has been moved, and there's a new feature called 'reminders'. From the article: 'Gmail may soon look nothing like the Gmail we all know so well. Google has invited a select group of users to test a completely new interface for the webmail client, according to, which appears to be part of the trial. The test version of Gmail — which may never see an official release — dispenses with design elements that have been present from the very early days of the email service.'"
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Google Testing Gmail Redesign

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  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:01PM (#46974671)

    Like Slashdot Beta, this is probably being driven by âoeweb designersâ and marketers. It's not good enough that something have reached a state of maturity that works well with users, and they like. Throw away the furniture and toss out the Persian rugs, white carpet and a do-over by Ikea is what we need, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:05PM (#46974705)

    They already RUINED Google Maps, please don't ruin Gmail as well.

    I think I might have to consider running my own crap, I'm sick of Google.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:08PM (#46974723)

    Like Slashdot Beta, this is probably being driven by Ãoeweb designersà and marketers...

    And like "Slashdot Beta", instead of improving the user experience by moving into the present era and supporting Unicode standards... Oh well, no one's listening.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:12PM (#46974765)

    mail really doesn't need a 're-invention' in UI. it didn't 10 yrs ago, to be honest. we have understood email for a long time, now.

    put me down as one of those that want a TRUE separation of form and function. I first learned UI stuff via motif (yeah, yeah..) and its UIL concept was pretty cool. you could, even as a user, define the UI in one language and form and the back-end code was entirely separate. the back-end would be updated by the programmers but the UI would (or could) stay stable if the end user wanted.

    why can't we have that idea for web stuff? and even modern apps?

    I have stopped doing updates. no more updates on my phone and no more firefox or thunderbird updates. I'll live with 'older versions' just so that the UI stays the same and won't break on me.

    I have test gear for my work bench that has not changed in half a century. the concept of DMMs, decade boxes, scopes, power supplies - all have pretty stable UI's, rarely do they have touch screens and even the ones that have graphic displays don't re-layout their displays ever 3-6mos, on whimsy. test gear does not change its UI and we are happy for it.

    I'd like to see must-have apps (mail, web) stay stable in their UI and only get security and bugfix updates on one track; and new features/gui on another. then let people choose the stable track or the update track.

    but noooooo. we can't have that. makes too much sense.

  • by Laxori666 ( 748529 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:14PM (#46974775) Homepage
    ... and completely despise all the changes. Then in another week or so I'll get used to it and not mind it. A week after that I'll think the old interface looks atrocious.
  • Indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mystikkman ( 1487801 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:33PM (#46974911)

    If it's anything like the new Google maps, no thanks. Its atrocious and no one can find anything that was previously accessible.

  • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:35PM (#46974929) Homepage Journal

    Honestly, the current version is badly cluttered, and this implementation is just a bunch of porcine lipstick.

    I want a nice, clean, fast-loading interface. The closer I can get to a raw text-list interface on it the better. I don't WANT shit popping out at me from any given direction.

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:49PM (#46975013) Journal

    It is not just email.

    The problem is the art scene and elitist art professors forcing designers and web developers to do things the NEW way. That is make it like a stop sign in ALL CAPS, no features, all minimalism, flat, or these students get bad grades.

    Guess what? When they graduate they work for companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Windows 8 and the horrible blinding white Office 2013/office 365 looks identical. All high contrast. Gradients ewww that is soo 2003. Borders? No distraction that is the old way. Features... eww CLUTTER.

    Skuemorphism is where we need to go back to. It worked fine the way it way and

  • by excelsior_gr ( 969383 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:52PM (#46975027)

    Indeed, I'm a Gmail user from the very beginning and although the layout has changed significantly over the years, none of the changes was actually bad. Different, yes, but they didn't suck. Although a lot of functions were added that are IMHO rather nonsense, they are kept out of the way and the UI always remained very intuitive. Also, Gmail (besides offering a huge amount of space for no charge and a spam filter that is actually very good) launched the "search, don't sort" idea which was pretty revolutionary for web-email at the time. They seemed to come into conflict with that idea by introducing folders and "labels" but, as I said, it is very easy to ignore them.

    Also, they have a very cool feature, that lets you adjust the amount of whitespace by choosing between the "comfortable", "cozy" and "compact" settings. Are you listening, Slashdot designers?

  • by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:24PM (#46975207) Homepage Journal

    Somebody out there wants to see new things, tiles, ribbons, etc, everything re-designed every 2 years.

    After the Y2K codeathon, hirings went down and the industry slumped. Why can't it do that again, now. Instead of putting us all through these crappy redesigns.

    It'll happen in about 24 years.

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:38PM (#46975285) Journal

    You know it is pretty sad when we look at a 2005 era IE 6 optimized version of a site as a principle of good design.

    What the hell happened?

  • by David_W ( 35680 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:44PM (#46975321)

    At least I know mozilla with any luck won't piss all over a simple UI.

    I'm sorry, have you seen Chromefox 29?

  • by wasteoid ( 1897370 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:02PM (#46975401)
    I find your lack of [consistent site font] disturbing.
  • by Nkwe ( 604125 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:12PM (#46975443)
    Please just have a profile option that says "Don't ever change anything on the interface", ever.

    If you move the blue button labeled "Compose" located in the upper left corner of the screen to the upper center of the screen, my dad won't be able to find it and he will call me and say his email is broken. If you change the color of the button, he will call me and tell me that email is broken. If you change the label from "Compose" to "New Email", he will call me and say his email is broken. If you pop up a great big dialog box on the middle of the screen that uses a bold blinking font and uses very noticeable colors, and this dialog box says "Welcome to the new mail interface, click here to learn about it.", my dad will somehow figure out how to close the dialog without reading it or the associated help and of course, he will think that email (or the Internet itself) is broken.

    No, I can't just teach my dad to be more flexible. Unlike other compatibility issues as technology progresses, I can not replace or "upgrade" my dad. He is 78 years old and is not into learning new tricks. He is a smart guy and is capable off learning new things, but he is old and crotchety and complains a lot every time he has to...

    Please please please remember that there is a segment of the user base that views even simple interface changes as a huge deal.
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:36PM (#46975563) Homepage Journal

    You might be onto something there. By making the task less efficient, the user spends more time - and moves his eyes around a lot more looking for the button he needs - both of which mean he's more likely to see the ad and respond to it.

    It's a kind of reverse ergonomics.

  • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:40PM (#46975577) Journal

    skeuomorphism is dumb because design elements intended for, say, "sorting" a book by putting your finger in the right notch should never be used in an app.

    yes, it is even more dumb to use giant 72 pt. text instead, but that doesn't make skeuomorphism a good idea.

  • by lannocc ( 568669 ) <> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:58PM (#46975669) Homepage

    I find your lack of [consistent site font] disturbing.

    But his font was fixed-width. Could it be any more consistent?

  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @08:49PM (#46975895)

    How about simple unadorned windows, maybe with a few simple hard gradients, where applications conform to the UI standards and conventions the OS imposes on them? Sadly enough, I think windows 2000 did this best, or xp with luna turned off. Everything that came after, from any vendor, not just ms, was just overdone plumbing. When the 3D accelerated stuff came along with aqua and aero, it just made things slower and laggier..and uglier. Now it's swinging hard back the other way, leaving the bloat, ugly, and wasted screen space, yet simplifying things into fisherprice counterparts.

  • Leave it alone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jmv ( 93421 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @08:59PM (#46975943) Homepage

    The thing that bothers me most with Google (not just Gmail, Android too) is the constant change in interface. I use the average app about 2-3 times between UI redesigns. I don't care how great the new UI is if it takes me more time to learn it than the time it's going to save until the next redesign. How about you make your new designs 3x better and update 1/3 as often? Seems like it would help the vast majority here.

  • by aberglas ( 991072 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @09:58PM (#46976125)

    The bigger problem is all that the MBAs in charge do is twiddle with the tinsel, and do not address the deeper problems in semantics that people have asked for. Such as being able to break up mangled conversations. Or add notes to an important conversation to summarize it. Or to add a meaningful heading. There are several others.

    GMail used to be innovative. Hard core slash dotters will know that all sent mail belongs in one place only, namely a folder called Sent Mail. GMail introduced conversations to emails, producing threads (just like Usenet...). They also introduced the idea that the same email could be put in more than one folder (label) at the same time. So it could go in Sent Mail, CustomerX, ScalingIssues, and Outsanding all at the same time. Way beyond traditional IMAP.

    These things were not done as the result of some market research survey. They were done because the engineers involved thought it would be cool. It would be the way that they personally would like to use email.

    But that was before the MBA and user interface experts took over. Just change the window dressing, dumb things down, target the idiot user.

    I am actually looking to move to Zoho mail.

    As to slash dot, how about just recognizing blank lines as paragraph breaks. That would be enough.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot&worf,net> on Monday May 12, 2014 @01:02AM (#46976881)

    Like Slashdot Beta, this is probably being driven by Ãoeweb designersà and marketers. It's not good enough that something have reached a state of maturity that works well with users, and they like. Throw away the furniture and toss out the Persian rugs, white carpet and a do-over by Ikea is what we need, right?

    The problem is a very vocal minority call for redesigns because designs get "stale".

    The most obvious is to take a look at UIs that haven't changed too much - OS X and iOS. They were functional and they worked. But more and more, people see how Android changes its UI practically every version, and seeing that OS X and iOS stay the same and change little, call it "stale", "dated" and "not evolving".

    So you get people who are always looking for the new shiny convincing everyone that to look and act different is good, it shows you're "evolving" and "changing" and "innovative".

    And then there's the rest of us who are trying to get shit done, and having the whole base of our work ripped from under us continually.

    There's no love when you keep things the same - the users get their work done the same. But change it up, and those minority say "cool" and "innovative" and stuff, even though to everyone else, it just means they have to spend more time doing what they were doing because the new UI is less efficient.

    More shiny, that's it. Keeping something the same for more than two versions is stale, old, passe.

    I just wish these people would realize that if you need to sell someone on the new UI, you did a bad job. Like iOS7, the new Firefox, Windows 8, Gmail, etc. People want to get shit done, not figure out where the (*&@#% you put the commands now.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead