New Google Reader: How Could They Get it So Wrong?

As you probably know, Google Reader was updated earlier this week. The old internal sharing options were removed and sharing with Google+ brought in. The interface was also rejigged. Here are my thoughts on both.

Change to sharing options

I can understand bringing in sharing to Google+ but to remove the old internal sharing and following options within Google Reader is a shame. I see where they’re going with the tighter integration with Google+ but removal of choice bodes poorly for the future. I just think it would be in their best interests to allow us more choice rather than dictate how they want things to be done with ‘automatic upgrades’. We actually don’t all want to use Google+ or to be forced down the road of using it. Thankfully, you can still enable sharing to other networks. Go to the Gear at the top right, click Reader Settings and click the Send To tab. Select the networks you want and you’ll now have a Send To option at the bottom of each entry with the networks you’ve chosen. There is also a Chrome plugin called ReaderSharer to restore the old sharing options and improve the feed spacing.

New interface

It’s hard to fathom how they got the new user interface so badly wrong. We’re all led to believe Google employs the best minds but the redesigned interface just beggars belief. Google, this is supposed to be an interface to, well, read stuff. So why put in so much white space in List View that I spend more time scrolling than reading? And the colours are so drab – all shades of grey. I just don’t get it and I’m not alone. I know they’re trying to impose some kind of interface consistency with their other apps. We’ll all experience a similar interface in GMail soon after what Google call an ‘automatic upgrade’ but really, I preferred things as they were. Thankfully browser plugins have already been released to remove some of the white space and display more feeds on the screen. Without a Chrome plugin to help, I’m getting just 17 feeds displayed in List View. Install New Google Reader Rectifier and I get 23 feeds, while FixStyleSheet for GoogleReader crams in 32 feeds. But why should I have to install Chrome plugins to get Reader to work the way it used to? Each extension takes up valuable memory. Why aren’t there preferences within Reader to tweak display settings?

It may well be that Google eventually responds to the widespread condemnation and reinstates internal sharing and something resembling the old interface, but I just can’t understand how a company supposedly with a lot of bright people can just get things so badly wrong in terms of user choice and design. If they don’t innovate well, or listen to users’ opinion, and impose badly designed stuff with cut-back choices, it surely doesn’t bode well for their future, or the users for that matter. Developers take note. We need a good Google Reader alternative to show how it should be done.

Any thoughts? As always I’d love to hear what you think.

One Response

  1. ahow628 Says:

    My feelings exactly:
    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/state_web_winter#facebook

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