.: Above The Aether :.

24 Jan, 2007

Google personal page usability issues

Posted by: Dave In: Design |Usability |Web

Our good friends at Google quietly launched a new feature on the Google Personal pages today. I must say, they dropped the ball this time. They put tiny little plus signs on their feed readers that are so unfriendly to use they made me cringe when I clicked on them.

boingboing_google_closed.gif

The little plus signs above (when clicked on) open a small framed window that forces the user to scroll the tiny window to read any text from the RSS feed. See below:

boingboing_google_open.gif

This is not very user friendly for several reasons. The first reason is that any decent amount of text in the RSS feed will force the reader to immediately start scrolling (as in my BoingBoing feed above) the tiny little frame so you can read a full paragraph of text. Be nice to your readers and don’t force them to scroll every 4 seconds so they can read the next sentence. The second issue stems from the frame’s action when it expands on the page. It pushes content down the page forcing users to again scroll further down the page to click on the next plus sign and expand the next article.

This action of opening and closing little windows forces the user to constantly scroll up and down the page opening and closing little windows to read a few articles in the RSS feed. All this scrolling is pretty unfriendly to the user.

You might want to ask me, “Dave, if you’re so smart, why don’t you come up with a better way to do it?”  Well, I don’t have to.  The good folks at NetVibes have nailed this one out of the ballpark.   They have a similiar”personal page” set up, but with numerous improvements.  Here is one of NetVibe’s readers:

boingboing_netvibes_closed.gif

There is a similiar look and feel with the reader upon first glance.  The changes become more obvious as soon as your roll your mouse over a link in the list:
boingboing_netvibes_hover.gif

You get a little yellow pop-up window that stays there as long as you hover your mouse over the link.  This is great for a quick glance at the first sentence so you decide imediately whether or not you want to click on the link to ready the rest.  If you decide to click on the link, NetVibes opens up a full-screen browser that allows you to view all thearticles in the feed:

boingboing_netvibes_open1.gif

Very slick.  The interesting benefit for this tool is that you can easily read all of the articles in this feed without ever being forced to open or close little hard-to-read windows.  You can also load all the articles into this browser at once and simply scroll through them without ever having to visit the website.

It’s odd not to praise Google – because they get it right so often.  However, in this case, they hit a foul ball into the stands and beaned the beer guy.

You never want to bean the beer guy.

C’mon Googlers…give this another shot.  I know you can do better.

-Dave

P.S. – The Google Reader is fantastic.  The Google Personal Page developers need to have coffee with the Google Reader developers and trade phone numbers or swap palm pilots or something.

1 Response to "Google personal page usability issues"

1 | ajaxcoder

January 24th, 2007 at 7:37 am

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Developing clones of netvbies.com and pageflakes.com, feel free to contact me on ICQ 273329698.

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  • Dave: Not sure, Bryan, but I'd love to know where Craig lives.
  • Bryan Hanks: What city were those in?
  • Kevin David Anderson: check out our other wreaths at: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150452725264516.391111.360128594515&type=3
  • epiphenita: Like Tom Waits without the music.
  • epiphenita: Reminds me of my good friend's artwork: http://victoriacarlson.blogspot.com/2009/06/untitled.html
  • Dave: I think someone should make some dance music from those "WHOAHs."
  • epiphenita: Oh, Dave. That was tonic to my soul. Perfect. I vote for an exorcism.
  • Dave: Hmm, looks sober to me.
  • Scott: I'm thinking that the guy with the hat might have had a drink or two before this picture was taken. Just a hunch...
  • Scott: There's a roleplaying scenario just waiting to be written based on these pictures. :-)

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