Weekend Fun: New iGoogle Interface Unpopular

I found this item amusing. Microsoft isn’t the only software company accused of screwing up a user interface. Even the magical Google isn’t always right.

Redesign of iGoogle Sparks User Outrage


Google recently rolled out a significant redesign of its iGoogle homepage and already users are complaining that the new version is a giant step backwards. The Google Group dedicated to iGoogle is quickly filling up with posts from angry users calling the new iGoogle “basic user interface stupidity” and petitioning for a return to the old look.


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  1. People always complain and start petitions when there is a change. Every single time. Just look at the groups protesting the new facebook, or the hate the new Twitter was getting for some time. A lot of people also swore never to use the new GUI when Windows XP came out, and they had also complained about the “eye candy” in Windows 95 before that.

    Give this a week or two and it will die down again. I don’t get it why people get so outraged over these things, and make every little GUI change into some epic battle between good and evil. Also, don’t we have more important things to worry about?

  2. I really don’t know what everyone is complaining about. It looks like just a cosmetic change, from my perspective, and it hasn’t slowed me down or irritated me at all.

    Is it just me, or does every company that grows past a certain point start to generally disregard its end users when putting out product? Does the popularity start getting to their heads, and they try to reverse cause and effect by taking the “you’ll eat what I serve you and like it” philosophy?


  3. If you have a large user base, there will always be a vocal minority who absolutely HATES whatever you do.

  4. Robert –

    You may be right about the iGoogle uproar settling down. I’ll check in a week. But the resistance to Office 2007’s UI has not died down, and I for one have not found it easier to use after gaining experience with it. It’s not unfamiliarity with the interface, it’s a whole array of poor design and implementation decisions that make things more tedious and more difficult to do.

    Jimmy & Hadley –

    When you get a larger user base, it’s harder to be all things for all people. Different groups use the program differently, and changes seen as improvements by some will be seen as disasters to others.

  5. I’m not saying that every change is good, or that no complaint is justified. But the size of the outcry is not a good indicator of whether there are real problems or not.

  6. I’ll admit to being unimpressed with the new iGoogle homepage. Where there used to be an easy link to open the Gmail inbox from the preview, it’s action has changed. So now, instead of clicking an email to open in the inbox, I’m taken to this stripped down embedded editor after a long wait. Just one missing feature is that the new editor won’t apply my signature.

    If there is a link to the full inbox, I can’t find it, and I’ve had to add a bookmark in Firefox to click instead. That smarts.

    I’m not at all afraid of change, but I hate going backwards. I’ll be the first to admit that the Office 2007 UI is much less efficient as well, but it’s disappointing that Google, recognized for doing gmail well, has taken a step backwards in usability here.

    Funny thing is that I didn’t even realize that there was an outcry until I read this. :)

  7. Almost a year later I finally got the new interface pushed. At first I thought I had accidentally clicked a button or link that made my tabs show up on the left. But when I tried to fix it I could not find any option doing so. Some googling made me realize that this is google’s new igoogle interface and despite the many compliants they are implementing this globally over time. I just got lucky too.

    It looked pretty ugly, consuming lots of space without really doing something with. It can not fit my original tab names, so I end up with chopped tab names. It’s just plain ugly and not practical either. But hey, okay, no problem. Someone has a bad taste and no clue about UI design. The problem is that I can not change it … I can not choose to put the tabs back on top. That’s frustrating, I can not help it, it irritates me.

    I like google’s UI’s. They are boring, simple, but at the same time look fresh and functional. The possibility to add themes to e.g. googlemail and igoogle is also nice. A bit more exiting, but still functional. And than somehow, someone thought of this …
    As I understand it has a purpose in regard to opensocial, but couldn’t they be more creative and come up with a solution that does not force a cosmetic limitiation?

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