My Reaction to Google Reader’s New Design

2011.11.03 8:08

Google Reader debuted a new layout this week. I, for one, prefer the old way. Not because of looks, exactly, but because the new interface fundamentally changes the way Google Reader functions. In trying to shoe-horn the look of Gmail into Reader, Google has harmed one of their most-loved properties.

Here’s a video I made which describes my reactions and illustrates points where Google can improve their interface design.

download 1920×1200 hi-res .mov / watch on YouTube

I want to hear your thoughts on the new Google Reader, and for that matter, on Gmail’s new design. Do you agree that much more thought and effort went into Gmail? Do you use Reader and find it more difficult to use? Am I completely off my rocker and blowing things out of proportion?

If you ask me, this smells like another Tropicana, albeit on a much smaller scale. It’s not just about the type and graphics, it’s about the way it works and how people interact. This shit matters, people!

UPDATE: 20111105.0044

It seems my message is getting through, somewhat. Google has updated their Reader theme so that the links are now blue. I cannot tell you what a huge difference this makes. I already feel more productive and faster in my movements. Here’s a screenshot clip, but log into your own account to see what I mean.

Google Reader Update

  • Hi Prescott, disregarding the changes (which I’m sure I’ll get used to), great to see you in person. More blog authors should take a video approach (myself included). Good job.

    • Thanks, David. I want to start doing more videos, especially since the process was easier than I imagined. I’m still using a first-gen iSight camera which has some pretty crappy resolution by today’s standard. But it’ll get me through for a while.

  • I think more cleaner and integrated with Google products

    • I don’t disagree. It _looks_ good, but in my eyes, it no longer _works_ good. Matheus, how frequently do you use Reader? Are you like me where you check it multiple times per day for dozens of feeds?

  • kenna

    Google reader is the first thing I open, always open. I like the streamlined and minimalistic view plus +1ing = sharing. I don’t know I like the new interface more than the previous one.

    • I like it too, but they didn’t finish it. For example, the +1 ability is great, except it no longer has a keyboard shortcut. And for that matter, the keyboard shortcuts listing on the Help section wasn’t updated. I’ve had problems exporting the +1’d items to my Google+ feed, and there’s no longer a URL or RSS feed of my +1’d items. This is just the tip of the iceberg, it’s a sign of general lack of attention.

      I can’t wait for Google to finish their redesign and tidy up some of these loose ends. Hopefully, with some feedback from those who “live test” it, we’ll get the best of all worlds.


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