A couple of things have been bugging me recently. More specifically, two of Google’s new features they’ve added to their popular services haven’t sat very well with me.
Advance warning – this is a bit of a rant. I’m aware I’m being a little strong about two things which perhaps aren’t awfully important in the grand scheme of things. Anyway, here goes.
SearchWiki = Fail
The first is the Google SearchWiki thing. My friend Chris Van Patten shares my viewpoint on this and sums it up very well in this Short-Form “Bird” Social Media Site Before It Went Terrible update.
It’s google’s job to craft my search results, not mine.
In addition to that, though, I find the new wiki controls next to each search result visually distracting. I mean, yes, they’re subtle, but the whole point of the Google interface is that it is effortless to use and really really simple.
Nothing should be on the page that doesn’t need to be there. No fancy graphics and definitely no silly buttons like those ones. While they are as subtle as feasibly possible, they still take my absolute 100% attention away from finding the best result and clicking it to get off the page as quickly as possible.
Google’s search interface must remain minimalist, simple and intuitive for it to be the most useful to me. If it doesn’t, I will restyle it until it is.
Do not want.
Gmail Themes = Not for Me
The second thing I have a problem with is the new Gmail themes. Now, yes, yes, I’m all for customisation and everything and I applaud Google for taking this approach of legitimising custom themes rather than screaming at Greasemonkey/Stylish etc. users who were unofficially skinning Gmail.
But I don’t like any of the new themes. The contrast of the colour schemes in every one I have tried doesn’t come close to the original classic style that was there before Themes was rolled out. Admittedly, this might be a ‘getting used to it’ thing, but I just don’t find any of the styles to be as good as it was before.
Many of the new themes use wishy-washy blues for the links on the left, which makes them less visually prominent. At the same time, the contrast between the text and the background on many of them is a step backwards from the proper original theme (click through for big versions)
Compare these two screenshots – one from a standard Gmail account with themes, and the other a Google Apps account which doesn’t have themes rolled out yet. I know which one I prefer.
I shouldn’t really complain about Gmail themes – I use IMAP with all my email accounts – Gmail and others, so I use a desktop client with all my messages in one place. Nevertheless, if I was using the Gmail web interface, I think there would be a getting-used-to-it curve involved (adjustment curve?).
I had to get my thoughts on these two things off my chest. I know SearchWiki hasn’t been popular with many other people too and themes has been met with a resounding “yes” generally, but personally I can’t see why I need either right now.