Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Why has Google lost the plot?

I am not a designer but like most software developers, I know there are certain simple rules that you should adhere to when creating web applications. Many of them make sense visually, such as using a few complementary colours and having consistent font sizes, others are just practical, such as consistency with other web sites, obvious navigation and not overloading the user with too much information.

I would expect a company like Google to be top of their game at this, especially with their continuous release of new "Beta" applications, whether that is Google Docs or the new Contacts interface.

I am wrong. Google, seem to have lost the plot. Let me give you some examples. I opened my GMail contacts to add a mobile number for someone. I didn't know if they were in my contacts or not, so let's start by typing into the search box:

Has this worked? It looks like it's still waiting but this is multi-billion dollar Google's attempt at a "no results found" page.

OK, so he doesn't exist, I delete the name and go back to the main contacts page.

I've blacked out the details but you get the idea. I need to add someone new. Remember what I said about obvious navigation? Where am I drawn to? Top left where the menu is? Nope. Top right? The Google shared toolbar? Nope. Tabs in the middle, near the search box? Oh - it's that lone button in the bottom-right by itself! The button which is not near any other navigation! Great. Let's click that.

Now you get this extremely bland form, which is mostly distracting since, in this case, I have only entered a name, wich you can marely see amongst the noise. I also have a mobile number. Now where do I put that? At first, I thought it wasn't on the form, but it is. Underneath really useful things like nickname and job title. So you enter it and then what?

Where's the done button or the X to close the dialog? Nope. You have to press the "Back" arrow. Of course, because back is not confusing at all. It couldn't possibly mean go back to the edit.

Now I'm more than happy that certain trend-setters push boundaries and maybe this is Google's attempt at Material design which makes it all nice and cross-platform but honestly? This is crap. It beggars belief that the number of people who work at Google cannot get something much more consistent and instinctive after spending what must be a vast amount on development and testing of this new Contacts form. It honestly looks like something a design or developer student would produce and then be told by their teachers to go and make it good!

Why Google? Are you really the new Microsoft where you exist in your own version of reality where you don't care what is good, just whatever you feel like doing and people have to use it because you have them hooked on GMail?
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