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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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:13PM (#46974769)

    It's a widespread problem. If they don't re-design the software every couple of years, what are they getting paid for? Sure they could make the software work on new hardware etc, while keeping the user interface the same.

    But that's not good enough. Somebody out there wants to see new things, tiles, ribbons, etc, everything re-designed every 2 years.

    Making people re-learn how to use their software every couple of years is fun! Do you miss your start button? Learn a new way to start a program! It'll be fun!

    Sure your productivity will drop immediately. But as you learn how to use the new software, your productivity will slowly rise. After a couple of years, it might be up to where it was before! And then it's time for a new version! Learn all that stuff again! Fun!

    The real mystery is why do big companies that buy software put up with this? Surely they should demand that the user interface stays the same, so that they don't have to keep retraining all their staff.

    On my computer, it seems like vi, emacs, fvwm and xterm look and act pretty much the same as 20 years ago. No relearning needed there. Can't we have a stable user interface that people learn once, and then they don't have to keep relearning every 2 years?

  • by kasperd ( 592156 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:24PM (#46974857) Homepage Journal

    It's not good enough that something have reached a state of maturity that works well with users, and they like.

    That has happened to Gmail multiple times over the years. And each time Google decided that it was time to redesign the Gmail UI. After their last major UI change, I completely gave up on using Gmail to write emails. Now I only use it to read and search emails.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:10PM (#46975119) Homepage

    From the description, this didn't sound all that bad.
    From the screenshot, it looks like a step back.
    They're not turning the sidebar into a slide-in pane in order to make more room for other things, they're just doing it in order to make the site look cool.
    They're turning what looks like a site where the user is in control, to a site where the user is just a passive consumer.
    I've turned sidebars into slide-in panes myself, but only if the sidebars are actually getting in the way of the other content.

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:35PM (#46975561) Journal

    Why does Skuemorphism need to go? IT WORKS.

    So what if you have pretty shadows, gradients, and gulp a leather background on your address book?

    I will take that any idea over a blinding white HUGE TEXT where I see 1/2 of the content before and have the address book now hidden where I have to do a search and get a freaking closed door metro style syndrome of having the whole screen change at once to get a contact?!

    Or am I misinformed here? I feel the anti skuemorphism crowd is the one propagating new UI should be all big minimal and dumbed down as these are computers and not the virtual devices they are replacing correct? But the original device was made to look that way is because it worked so why change it?

  • by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Monday May 12, 2014 @12:53AM (#46976843) Journal

    Really, you can blame the whole "UX" fad for destroying sensible HMI/HCI based design.

    The stop sign is a classic case of form following function. Bold red colour, so you notice it. Unique shape, so you can tell what it is before you get close enough to read it. Simple and to the point, designed by engineers.

    UX brings in a shit load of bollocks around it rather than making it as simple as it needs to be.

    Exactly this. UX as a whole is a cancer on modern computing -- nothing more than a combination of follow-the-leader and a circle-jerk. All it takes is for someone presents a (completely wrong) idea and, as long as they are authoritative about it, the other UX sheep will view that opinion as gospel, not to be questioned but only blindly followed. This might be a teacher at a school or a company like Google.

    A perfect recent example is this Stack Exchange question regarding traffic signals []. An ignorant (but inquisitive) person asks why traffic signals are always three vertical lights instead of some cool new UX-y system of LEDs and poor contrast. An answer posted which sounded very authoritative (but included no references) and had a few pretty pictures was immediately up-voted by the other UX sheep, even though the answer is completely wrong. The author eventually went and made some edits to claim his view was "just historical" to cover up the fact that he was glaringly wrong about the issue of color blindness.

    You can see this behavior everywhere. Microsoft following Apple, Mozilla following Google. It has nothing to do with something being empiraclly or evidently better -- it's simply everyone following the hipster cool kid in class around because, well, he wouldn't be popular if he wasn't right!

    We've had computer usability studies for decades now which have provided some keen insights into how people intuit the function of computer (some very interesting ones from the original Mac and Windows 95 timeframes). UX, however, has nothing to do with research or study -- it's little more than populist bullshit.

  • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Monday May 12, 2014 @03:22AM (#46977321) Homepage

    How much online advertising has your dad clicked on in the past decade? In other words, your dad is for Gmail a leech, not a product for Gmails advertisers. They would be glad for him to switch.

    I firmly believe that the UI changes are designed to reduce our natural ability to mentally block out the advertisements on webpages. When the UI changes frequently, we must always examine the whole page (ads and all) to find what we need.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern