Google Groups - When Interaction Design goes wrong.
8 Dec 2004 - 7:10pm
10 years ago
I need some help here,
I have been an avid user of google groups for a few years now (and was using
deja news before that). The first version of google groups was a bit clunky
but once you worked out how to use it you could find and read messages very
quickly. To keep track you could search for someone and track your posts
just click on your name. Sure the way to find groups meant sometimes groups
where hard to get to. Gradual improvements where that - improvements but
there was some room for a few changes.
The along came the google groups 2 beta. Great, thought I, google, a company
driven by the interface and who I have quoted in meetings is going to make
the groups tool 'zing'. On first view - instant confusion. Okay, maybe it
was just me. Great I can now save my favourite groups - one tick - but what
on Earth is going on on there rest of the page. What is this message I'm
seeing - what are these stars and what is that list to the right.
Too much information - too many options. 1 new of 1 message? What? 1
Here's something I've found in user research- people like lists. People like
lists with colomns. Why - because they can scan them.
Google doesnt appear to believe that so now chunk up everything and gives it
to me in a way I can't scan. I can view titles only but that becomes
unreadable - with overlapping, no colomns and less legable to the list it
But that's not the worst bit. Threres bits being hidden on clicks and
infomratoin being called options (bad nomenclature at work) and the quoted
text, which adds the context to most post, you have to click to view. I can
see they did this to save space so you could scan a group - but it fails.
They then undo that work of saving space by adding more space - much more.
It's line break city. This means it becomes harder to see where one message
starts and another ends. They attempt to do this by using a block around the
authors name (which you can no longer click!).
This has turned into a rant.
What I need is others to have a look at google groups who have expertise in
interactive design and find out how a company like google can design
something the undoes the usability benefits of a previous version. If you
feel google groups doesnt work I woudl appreciate if others could send them
If you feel it does work I'm also interested to hear why you think it does.