Google Reader Redesign Upsets A Lot Of People

Should Google+ Be Integrated Into All Google Products?

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Google Reader Redesign Upsets A Lot Of People
[ Social Media]

Google announced a couple weeks ago that it would be Google+ifying Google Reader, and now it has officially happened. The product has received a big redesign.

What do you think of the Google Reader redesign? Let us know in the comments.

Believe it or not, a lot of people are unhappy with the new design. This is fairly commonplace for redesigns in general, but users of Google products would probably do well to get used to it, if they’re not already, because I have a feeling we’ll be seeing plenty more Google+-related design changes for various products in the near future.

Google has committed to Google+. This isn’t Google Wave or Google Buzz. I think I can say with confidence that Google+ will not be gone next year. It’s changes like this Google Reader design and integration into other Google products that shows that Google+ is really just an extension of the Google account in general. It’s about the Google profile and the relationships that are connected to that (see things like Circle counts appearing in search results), and of course it’s about your identity.

So, taking it as Google being in it for the long haul with Google+, it’s understandable that Google+ get heavy integration with the social network. That said, there are plenty of justified complaints as well, and there is probably no better example of this than those from someone who actually used to work on the product.

Google Reader Redesign

Google Reader Redesign

Brian Shih, a former product manager for Google Reader, who left Google in July, wrote a rather scathing post about the redesign. He calls it a “disaster,” and says:

In the name of visual consistency, Google has updated the visual style to match Gmail, Calendar and Docs. I have nothing against visual consistency (and in fact, this something that Google should be doing), but it’s as if whoever made the update did so without ever actually using the product to, you know, read something.

Reader is a product built to consume information, quickly. We designed it to be very good at that one thing. G+ is an experience built around browsing (similar to Facebook) and socializing. Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows.

Reader is a product built to consume information, quickly. We designed it to be very good at that one thing. G+ is an experience built around browsing (similar to Facebook) and socializing. Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows.

He also criticizes the color scheme and the new sharing functionality, saying that it’s harder to share now.

In my opinion, sharing is still pretty easy. If you don’t want to share to Google+ (which is the easiest way to share, there are options for email and other social networks right next to it. Just go to “send to” from any post.

Still, Shih makes a great point about consuming information. To be honest, I can’t really put my finger on what it is about the design that makes it harder to do this, but it is harder – particularly when you’re browsing through feeds in list view. I think it might be a combination of the font and spacing. Whatever it is, I don’t see it as an improvement. Again, that’s just my opinion, but the redesign has been met with quite a bit of backlash. Here is some reaction from the Twitterverse:

The Google Reader re-design has broken my Internet usage habits. I can’t have the next item button where my Tweetdeck messages appear. 1 minute ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

I really do not enjoy the new Google Reader. 1 minute ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

New Google Reader crashed the first time I opened it. I’ll never make that mistake again. 3 minutes ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

You know how hitting the space bar in Google Reader would show you the next item? Now it marks that whole label as read. #broken 6 minutes ago via Twitter for Mac · powered by @socialditto

I do not like it on a train. I do not like it on a plane. I do not like the new Google Reader. I do not like it, Sam I Am! 12 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

I think the new Google Reader interface might be enough to make me abandon the remaining feeds I follow… 15 minutes ago via Twitter for Mac · powered by @socialditto

Google Reader errors a lot too, even with chrome. Doesn’t load feeds and keeps taking me back to the top of the page. Ho hum. 16 minutes ago via Mehdoh · powered by @socialditto

new google reader seems bare.. difficult to read and unresponsive. 16 minutes ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

There’s a petition that already has nearly 10,000 signatures to “save Google Reader”. That’s not too hard to believe, but people are even protesting with signs outside of Google’s D.C. headquarters:

Google Reader Protest

Image credited to Leah Libresco

More on this (and more pictures) at dcist.

Not everyone hates the changes. When we asked our Facebook fans what they thought about the changes, we got responses like:

“Yes! I like it a lot. I think it’s aesthetically better and I like how all of your subscriptions come up on the home page/news feed.”

“ i use G Reader probably more than anyone in my day. The difference isn’t as drastic as many are saying it is. Didnt notice much but the colors and the new G Plus button. Didnt slow down my day any.”


Yeah it’s a massive improvement :)

There is plenty of defense of the changes on Twitter as well:

If u can’t embrace change u should’nt be on the internet: 10k Users Petition 2 Save Old Google Reader http://t.co/GuJOvZw3 2 minutes ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

Alright…I’ll say it. I like the new Google reader UI. Please be gentle with your stonings. 3 minutes ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

Google reader now has a next item! No more scrolling!! This could help with me reading more blogs. 5 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

I just got the Google Reeder new look. Clean. Mikey Likey. #googlereader http://t.co/DN6XexSL 12 minutes ago via TBUZZ · powered by @socialditto

The following tweet brings up a good point:

Initial verdict on the new Google Reader? So far, digging it, but then, I’m not a G+ fan so not seeing all the changes http://t.co/iaS8jYX5 7 minutes ago via TweetDeck · powered by @socialditto

Not all Google Reader users are Google+ users, so some of the new functionality is lost on them. But at the same time, Google is obviously trying to convert more non-Google+ users into Google+ users. Google Reader has been around a long time, so it’s very likely that they’ll succeed in this goal to some extent.

It’s just another Google+ gateway Google can get users to enter through, kind of like when they tied the YouTube account to the Google account, though in this case there is even less friction, because Google Reader users already have Google accounts. To sign up for Google+ is simply enabling another feature of the broader Google social network. Google could probably get a lot more Google+ users if they made this more clear (though I guess they are in some ways, by integrating it into all of their products).

I guess the real question is: should Google be integrating Google+ into all of its products? What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Google Reader Redesign Upsets A Lot Of People
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  • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Richardson

    Once again, Google outsmarts itself. Stupid change is stupid.

  • http://www.atlcomputerdude.com Chris

    wow crazy

  • http://www.sitestrategics.com Jon Thompson

    Who the heck chops up a perfectly good classic car, to take “parts” for the new car, that isn’t even the same make/model? The people following and followers of Google Reader is a circle in it’s own, that should be left alone!

  • http://www.sitestrategics.com Jon Thompson

    Obviously, the people that like the new UI are not power users of Google Reader because they would understand how much of a role that people you follow, could play.

    Since April 7, 2007 you have read a total of 203,002 items.

    Thanks for alienating a loyal consumer GOOGLE!

  • ggreader

    Hit like button to make number to echo our voice !

    “We Hate Google-Reader Redesign page” on fackbook


  • http://www.impressivewebs.com Louis

    One thing that *would not* upset anyone:

    A redesign of WebProNews. Wow…. even gives “clutter” a bad name. :)

  • http://snapdealreview.com/ Snapdeal

    I have not yet used the new Google reader after reading the article, I am very curious about new look.

  • Bill Huskey

    I do not like the redesign. Please.bring back the old.Google Reader.

  • jason h

    A horrible killing of a useful site with devoted followers. The functionality is greatly reduced with the misguided attempt to push traffic to Google’s soon-to-fail social networking experiment.

    I have a major beef with the way that Google made these changes. I had no idea they were coming and with the click of a refresh button yesterday I lost all comments along with a large amount of data (much like some use email). When Yahoo! made its email change some time ago it advertised the change every time you logged on for what seemed like a year and ran the new email side by side with the old for a long time. Google has done none of this.

    In the spirit of open source Google should give away the code for the old Reader so devoted users can recreate on their own.

  • http://www.inthepinkconsultants.co.uk John Gilbert

    Is the problem Google Reader or Google itself. Google feel that they are a law unto themselves yet they are just incredibly bad at everything they do including their customer service. We have converted a little over 400 of our customers to Bing in the last few months and if it wasn’t that their Bingbot was such a poor performer they would wipe the board with Google. Maybe Bing should get their act together.

  • http://www.contentforconversions.com Russ Hudson

    Whether you like it or not really doesn’t matter – Google generally doesn’t make and decisions lightly. At this point they’re too invested in Google+ – it is not going to go away and in fact it will only become more popular as Google throws more weight behind it.

  • http://cxinteractive.com/ Brian

    Seems like some improvements functionally but I’m not a huge user so I could be wrong. What I don’t like is all the white and I don’t like the fact that there’s no separator between the subscriptions in the left column and the posts in the middle and it’s just all white if posts are read.

    Also, on another note, as my twitter comment says, please write about the Yahoo Bookmarks fiasco where they blocked users from adding bookmarks to it for 3 months and are now forcing us to download the Yahoo Toolbar in order to use bookmarks even though it’s still web-based. So, basically, Yahoo Bookmarks checks if you have the toolbar installed and, if not, forces you to download it otherwise it won’t show you your bookmarks on the page. So annoying! I really don’t want another toolbar and less web space. They’re just trying to increase their search market share by having more people search with the toolbar. It’s a lame attempt. Also, Google should have an import feature that allows you to import your bookmarks from Yahoo in html form or whatever. They could capitalize on this and steal more users from Yahoo.

  • http://www.PlacesToEatOkay.com Steve G

    Sounds like Google needs to start doing more beta testing instead of releasing new versions of products that the product managers pat themselves on the back before letting others test it out first and give feedback.

  • http://www.CaptainCyberzone.com CaptainCyberzone

    Ahhh, the Google Cloud slowly emcompassing the Earth.
    I’ll have to check to see if it interfers with the readability of the book I’m promoting on my site, “A Dog Named Spot (Welcome To Life 101)”.

  • http://www.positivemessages.co positive

    Google+ should not be Integrated on gmail or any other google products in order to succeed, because I try to bookmark google+ so I can check later who update with new photos and I end up with all the google products and get lost into it and forgot all about google+

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    I think Google is going to keep integrating everything it can into Google+. It seems clear to me that Google+ is their big shot to extend their web dominance to the social sphere as well as search.

  • JM

    Google is integrating an aspect of their services even before it is perfected. Google+ should not be integrated into all their products because Google+ is currently a flawed social networking system. It currently contains an aspect called “What’s Hot” which displays some assumed popular video or post to all the users, and suggests that we add somebody that we are in no way connected to to our circles. The “What’s Hot” feature could be useful if it were an optional thing, perhaps only listed on the side, and users would need to click it to get there. However, currently it has many flaws. It is not optional is one of them. Other flaws include that it is not a filtered feed. There has been many reports of objectionable materials being fed through there. From obscene language to abuse, to things that could be considered pornographic in nature. For myself, I have been fortunate to only see immature humor and a cat trying to save its kittens from a slide, but others have not been so fortunate. In fact, I have had some concerns that if children use Google+ like they use facebook, that they will see something objectionable, and thus be exposed to something that they should not be. So, this so-called feature has many down-sides. it needs to be modified if they keep it. But with a problem like this with a random unfiltered video from the Google network being posted on each person’s stream, it is both discouraging many users from using Google+ and could hurt children. As far as I know, children don’t use Google Docs, but if Google is integrating a social network that is bothering many people even in its preliminary stages into their other services, it might turn people off from Google Docs.

  • http://www.aspenleafpro.com Jefe

    Not impressed. Slower, more crashes, clunky, am looking at alternatives after using G-Reader for years.

  • http://www.gjtutorial.com Sarbjit Singh

    I have been pleased with the design changes made to google products lately. However Google Reader is an exception, it has become very difficult to use and it seems that I will never get used to it.

  • http://oahu-handyman.com/blog honolulu remodeling

    Wow my Google reader is no longer working: can any tell us why? Even the g forums users are asking wots up with that.

    Personally nearly 80% of all my web traffic ……..

  • http://www.ahmadulwan.com ulwan

    so far the design sucks.making it more compact won’t get it any good, for a heavy user like me with maybe thousands of feeds that spells trouble.simplicity isn’t a substitute for consumption of information which in my opinion isn’t reliable enough.buckle up or i will go to another competitor.friendfeed or brizzly anyone??;)


  • syntax

    I think the backlash is predictable – people always get their panties in a wad whenever anyone changes anything. Frankly I think it’s ridiculous seeing people waste so much time and energy (petitioning the office? really!?) complaining about a product or service THEY GET FOR FREE. Nobody is forcing you to use it. If you don’t like it, use something else! Google paid real money to real developers to code it up, and you’re just some bored idiot browsing Reddit and looking at funny pictures of cats online. “I don’t like where the new buttons are, it makes it harder to get my funny cat pictures.” Get a freaking life assholes.

  • http://www.snapdeal.com Snapdeal

    Surely its a mess to use the new design…….

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