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The New and Improved iGoogle

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Google has rolled out a new version of homepage customizer iGoogle. They say they’ve rolled it out to all U.S. users, but that would include me, and I have seen no signs of it on my page, so apparently "all" is a little strong. Hopefully I will be included soon, because being a fan of iGoogle, I would find the new features quite useful.

The biggest of those features is the "canvas view" that comes with it, which allows you to view the contents of some gadgets without leaving the iGoogle page. For example with the old version if you want to look at your gmail account from iGoogle, you can see your inbox, but if you click on a message you will be directed to the actual page at Gmail. From what I understand (I’m still awaiting testing for myself) you will now be able to read your messages without leaving the page you’re on. They have incorporated this ability with a variety of different iGoogle gadgets:

iGoogle Improved Gadgets

Another key feature of the new version is the left navigation, which will allow you to get to any gadget from an organized menu on the left side of your iGoogle homepage (as seen in the screenshot below. This is a huge improvement in design as far as I’m concerned, because it stands now, I have rearranged the gadgets around my page i don’t know how many times, and can still not really come up with an organization that I really like (and have to look around for a while to find them sometimes). Having a navigation menu on the left with a canvas view for gadgets will be much more convenient.

iGoogle Screenshot

I only hope that the gadget developers crank out the canvas view compatibility so the number of supported gadgets increases quickly. Google expects them to. First though, I’d just like to be able to see my own version of the new iGoogle.

Update: Well, I’m seeing the left side navigation now, but I’m still expriencing some hiccups with the new iGoogle. I got the canvas view to work on one click, but after that, nothing seems to want to go to it. My Gmail gadget isn’t working at all now. I’ll give it a little time and see what happens.

The New and Improved iGoogle
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  • beef

    It is quite awful.  The tabs on the left leave a big blank space.  When you minimize the google widget, it no longer tells you the number of new emails you have.  Replying within the gmail page in igoogle also sucks.  It inserts lots of spaces into the quoted text.

    A big complaint, you can;t preview the articles like you could before by clicking the plus/minus sign.  You can either have a sunnary shown for everthing in every widget/gadget or nothing shown.  In order to read the article, it pops you out to the site.

    Also, there seems to be a lot more refreshing of the page.  My browser/computer has to work harder.

    hopefully, they will provide a classic version that I can switch back to.

    • Guest

      I would simply add my voice to the chorus of commentors who loathe the new side navigation. The fact that a space-wasting "feature" like this could even get added, without an option to turn it off, seems like another sign that Google is losing its roots and becoming more of a conventional (in the crappiest sense) software company.

      The evidence just keeps piling up…

  • Guest

    It’s so awful I removed iGoogle as my home page. The tab bar on the left is just a waste of space. I can’t see new messages in my inbox without also displaying who the message is from and the first lines of the message — way to go for privacy! And a big thank you to Google for taking control from the users!

    Fix what isn’t broke and lose users; it’s really that simple.

    • medusasbedhead

      I also removed iGoogle as my homepage and switched back to MyYahoo, since the new side tabs are such a distracting, awful waste of space!  I was unbelievably disappointed that there wasn’t even an option to change it back, so I’ll be hanging out w/the competition ’til Google comes back to its senses!

  • Guest

    It’s funny: just yesterday I submitted a survey stating how much I loved iGoogle and today I hate it.  If I wanted tabs I could have put them on there myself.  The tab creates alot of wasted space and constrains the space for the gadgets.  I find it much more difficult to look at.  One positive note is that I can delete emails from the gmail gadget, but other than that I’m really unhappy.  Why change it?  It was great the way it was!  At least get rid of the mandatory tabs, please!

  • Guest

    The iGoogle user community has responded negatively to the forced roll-out of the new iGoogle.

    So some of the widgets can be expanded to fill the whole screen?   Why not put out some really cool widgets and get your users to upgrade /because they want to/?   What other incentive is there to waste 10-20% of my screen realestate to the unpleasant tab bar on the left…

    • Guest

      I agree with you. Complete waste of space. Why not make it so users can change the layout to ANY way they want.

  • Ellavemia

    There is nothing improved about this scheme. I was such an advocate for Google before today but I’m hurt that they could destroy an excellent feature so thoroughly. If only one change could be made, please, please take away the left margin tab dead air space. It’s a 2 inch margin of nothingness and I despise it

    What was so wrong with tabs on top? That’s how the good filing cabinets do it.

  • Guest

    I don’t understand this move by Google.  Many, many complaints from users who were forced to test this "improved" version prior to the full rollout.  Off to google.uk for me, at least until they launch this crap on our brethren across the Atlantic.

  • http://kontansplace.com Kontan

    If you don’t have it yet then count yourself lucky.  I hate the side tabs and the attempts to impove on a good thing failed miserably.

  • Guest

    This improvement is anything but.  The old one was much more readable.  This one is too cluttered and busy.  Plus, the gmail gadget doesn’t load gmail, only a lame inbox and compose version.  And when you close the browser in that state, it reopens back in the inbox detail view, rather than back at your homepage.

    This is a terrible change, but an opportunity for someone to code up a decent replacement.  It will get millions of users.

  • Not Amused

    I used to like my iGoogle homepage, but no more. I am finding this "new and improved" version extremely frustrating. In addition to the completely useless/uwanted menu, my to-do list was deleted and my personalized horoscope has, so far, been changed from Cancer to Gemini to Leo. 

  • Pat

    The "new" iGoogle design looks like something from 1995 in the pre-usability study years. 

    Anyone have any suggestions on an alternative for a home page portal?  None of the workarounds are working for me.

     

  • Guest

    Hate it!

  • Chris Crum

    Now that I’ve had a chance to mess with it a little more, I’m pretty unimpressed as well. I’m still hoping they will be improving it in a timely fashion. I completely agree with the idea of making the sidebar optional. I do however like the canvas view feature. Unfortunately, most of my gadgets do not cater to it. If this can become more widespread throughout the gadgets offered, I think the new layout would be more useful.

  • Guest

    At least we know who some of the Google shills are.

    Forget iGoogle.  Move on with Netvibes http://www.netvibes.com with http://faq.netvibes.com/how_to_switch_from_my_old_service_to_netvibes#switch_from_google_homepage_to_netvibes">how-to-migrate

  • Guest

    hate it

  • Guest

    how do we tell Google to make this go away!?

  • Guest

    I’d just like to add my virtual voice to all the others who have stated their dislike of the new iGoogle Home page.  I was quite happy with the tabs in a separate small box at the top of my columns.  You know, like a tab.  But I totally dislike it taking up a whole left side column and squeezing everything else together.

     

    Maybe some folks like this.  Maybe they don’t.  Either way, Google should make it an optional layout, not force it on everyone.

     

     

    • Chris Crum

      I think at the very least, when the left-side navigation is minimized it should not leave an entire blank block that still takes up the same space. It kind of defeats the purpose.

  • http://www.theinfogroup.com SEO Dallas

    While I like the new themes (Gnarls Barkely) I too hate the side navigation.  With Googles penchant for taking an idea and improving on it I expected the option to select what kind of layout I wanted.  Maybe that’s the suggestion I would make Google!

  • http://www.mobilemini.com Portable Storage

    Honestly, I got comfortable with iGoogle’s interface. Much in the same way I got used to Google.com. I’m not hating the new interface maybe after a few weeks I’ll get used to it like I got used to the old interface.

  • Guest

    Cris you really should have waited one day till you saw the new homepage before you praised it. Now you are looking like a Google A–kisser.

    As I am writing, all over the US people are enraged about this. I doubt the firestorm goes away soon. Every group, every blog, everywhere I look, I have not seen one single favorable comment by the average user. Just thousands of comments saying "put it back" which of course Google will not do.For now I have gone to Google Ireland and signed in as the new page hasn’t hit there yet. Eventually I will go back to Yahoo’s My Page.

    The only good thing about this is seeing the few (very few) bloggers, columnists, tech writers and such praise it then see the articles followed by an avalanche of negative comments about the new look. I have never seen so many folks going out of their way in joining groups and blogs just to post comments raking Google over the coals for this and I for one don’t blame them.

    Norm

     

     

     

     

    • Chris Crum

      Hi Norm,

      If I sounded like a Google “A–kisser” I guess it is because I’ve been a fan of iGoogle in the past, and the features (of which not much opinion had yet circulated when I wrote the article) based on the descriptions and screenshots seemed pretty useful.

      I still think they can be potentially, but there needs to be some bugs worked out (like the ability to hide the left-side bar as discussed and the addition of the canvas view to a larger variety of gadgets).

      I think most people will be happy if they just make that column optional, which they very well could do given the overall response to the new design.

      I guess in some ways though I am a Google “A–kisser” because I recognize many of the useful things they have brought us that I use every single day. Is every product they have perfect? Of course not, but I’m not ready to burn them at the stake for adding an element that I have some criticism of to a service that I know I like as a whole already.

      Chris

      • Guest

        Thanks for the reply Cris. By the way, how do you like the new font. Very tough on these old eyes for sure. That alone will force me to change even if I did like it. . 

        Of course Google on the whole is still better than no Google at all. I agree with you there. But tell me your reaction on how they went about the change, with what, maybe 1% of people (regular everyday users now, not techies) knowing this was going to happen? Is that the way Google did things in the past? Does this heavy handedness fortell the way they will do things in the future? 

        Sorry Cris but I am not a "for better or worse till death do us part" kind of guy. Big Corporations (and yes that is what Google is) don’t get a bye from me because of good things they did for me in the past. What have you done for me today baby? I will love you till you screw me and then I will hate you. Simple.

        Ok Cris, stand up now and go on the record as to where you stand. I know a guy like you will like and use all the gee whiz gizmo’s of the new page but::

        In your opinion as a self proclaimed Google Fan

        1. Have you ever seen a reaction like this to anything Google has done and do you think the Heads there are more than just a little taken aback?

        2. Do you feel there should be an opt out so regular folks like myself can go back to the old Page even if we can’t use some of the new functions of the new Page? (which I have no interest in anyway)

        Norm

         

         

         

        • Chris Crum

          Yes, I do feel that an opt out feature would be appropriate. I agree that the way they forced it upon everybody was not the best way to roll it out. They probably should have taken a similar approach to how Facebook introduced their new design, at least giving people a chance to get used to it before forcing it upon them.

          As far as the reaction? Yes, I’ve seen similar reactions to many things Google does. In fact, it seems like everything they do is criticized into the ground. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It only brings clarity to things, but yes, Google’s done some things that haven’ been popular with everybody. A couple that immediately come to mind are “Street View” for Google Maps and their pending search advertising deal with Yahoo. Actually, when I think about it that way, Google hasn’t much backed down on these things, so who knows how they’ll treat this. I don’t think the “opt-out” option would be out of the question for them though, so we’ll see I guess.

  • http://www.e-commercewebdesign.co.uk Adam – Ecommerce Web Design

    It’s very unenjoyable to use. They better update it uick or I’ll switch to Yahoo!

  • Guest

    Maybe it’s because I have a huge monitor, but I kind of like the new interface. It took me a little while to get used to it, but I find that it suits my needs all right. I do agree that there should be a way to get the old version if you aren’t happy with the new one.

    C

    • Chris Crum

      Great point. I can definitely see monitor size playing a part in the enjoyment of this design.

  • http://www.work-at-home-jobs-iowa.com Trent – Home Business

    I don’t really like it as much as the old one. Not that there is anything wrong with it but I am just used to it the old way so I think this will take some getting used to. Plus it takes up a lot more space on my monitor so I have to scroll. I liked being able to scan all my feeds right when my home page opened. Oh well.

  • Guest

    I read about a site on John Chow today called http://www.43marks.com – its like Igoogle but better cuz you can add you own bookmarks and the bookmarks can be websites not just gadgets and RSS feeds although you can upload your favorite RSS feeds too. Its free and totally customizable. Plus you don’t have to login to see your bookmars and RSS feeds

  • http://www.petitiononline.com/igoogle/ Johnson Rice

    I’ve started a petition to get Google to give users the option to switch back to the old design until they actually test and redesign this messy version that so many people hate that they forced on us for some reason….

     

    http://www.petitiononline.com/igoogle/

    Please Sign

    -Johnson

  • Paul

     Apart from the personal like/dislike reactions. the left tabs are objectively a bad human interface design. They take up valuable screen real estate but that is not their worst sin. The worst thing about them is that they take up space and ‘overload’ the core navigation function of a tab with indexing of the page contents which is not necessary. Taking that whole statement apart:

    1. tabs down the left take up a lot more room than tabs along the top; even with wide screens, I want content, not navigation if I have additional width
    2. a tab is for navigation; menus on tabs are not great ideas, but we can tolerate them for edit and delete functions for the whole tabbed page
    3. there is no need for an index on the tab, because you can see everything on the index (and to the person who needs an index to find what is in front of him, I say declutter your page and create some new tabs – the tabs are then the index)
    4. an icon on the title bar of a gadget could have been used to invoke the canvas mode for the gadgets – you don’t need the entries in an otherwise superfluous index

    As a very old developer who has worked his way through all the various paradigms of computer interface, I can say that this change was designed by techies for techies, without the least insight into end user needs. They have taken their inspiration from the IDEs they use on their dual screen setups in the development labs. If there was an interface designer on this one, they were rank amateurs. 

    • Paul

       Point 3 above should have read:

      there is no need for an index on the tab, because you can see everything that is in the index directly in front of you on the page (and to the person who needs an index to find what is in front of him, I say declutter your page and create some new tabs – the tabs are then the index – in fact, in the paper world, they were originally called index tabs.)

  • Guest

    Come on, Google.  Give us a choice between the new "improved" iGoogle and the old one we all love!

  • tj

    HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE….. NEW iGOOGLE SUCKS!

     

  • http://www.celticbydesign.com Irish Gifts

    I’ve never cared for iGoogle at all.  I really like the uncluttered interface of the regular Google page, so you’ll not find me changing over any time soon!

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  • http://www.home-improvement-time.com Rika Susan’s Home Improvements

    I kinda like it. It was time to freshen things up. But I guess it takes some getting used to.

  • http://www.a-lyric.com/ Michael

    I had to go look and see what the fuss was about as I have been happily using Yahoo for some time now (a default when i changed computers, most likely). But from looking a the stats on my lyrics site, I know I’m in a small minoruty.

  • Guest

    I don’t like the  new igoggle homepage either and have already gone back to my Yahoo start page.

  • http://www.family-estore.com/ Steven

    I am finding this "new and improved" version extremely frustrating and user unfriendly.

  • http://www.straightalk.biz/designs straightalk

     Google Igoole chrome browser addon development tools straightalk

  • http://www.kombizz.photopoints.com/main/photos/photographer.aspx?ID=15096 kombizz

    Despite all, I love Igoogle. In fact I do have 5 computers in different places and I uploaded IGOOGLE menue and program in all of them.

  • http://www.SelectiveMarketingVentures.com Kathy Clark

    Aren’t people strange.  We get excited about new improvements, and yet we hate change.  After a few days we settle down and love things.

    Personally, I love the new changes and the menu on the side is very helpful.

    Kathy Clark

  • http://www.squidoo.com/desperate-buyers-only jimmy Income

    Its settled, since everyone agrees its terrific Ill try it.

  • http://www.thebookabyss.com.au thebookabyss

    can’t wait for this to be available to us down under. A big fan of the old so i’ll be interested to see if its an improvement. Like anything new, it will probably take a little while and people will get use to it.

  • http://www.vfwds.com Vicki

    The embedded gmail removes hyperlinks, which imho, does not save time and energy; if a new window or the full version must be opened, what’s the point of the ‘shortcut’?

  • http://www.hindlist.com eyesopen

    honestly its good. I tried it and found good.

  • TechSupportTim

     I guess I’ll have to follow up on this one – one of my end-users kept getting virus alerts on Friday – I traced it to her iGoogle page – every time she clicked on something in the page so that it refreshed, up popped a virus alert.  Since it just started Thursday afternoon, and had never happened before, I have to assume her iGoogle update could have had something to do with it.

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    Not bad but i still prefer the regular google page, nothing watsoever.

  • Bring it back

    It’s nasty- a total waste of space.  I hate when a page I "created" is changed-I had not idea this was coming and hate it!!! Why can’t I choose whether or not I use the new?  The other was useful-now I have all my info crammed into essentially 4 columns instead of the 3 I had set up. Why, why, why?  Just because it’s a change doesn’t mean it’s bad, or good.  It’s bad because it’s a  BAD design.  Bad…..nasty….ick…..

  • http://www.wholesaledeelz.com/ Bob

    I just checked Google and do not see anything different about the way the main page looks…yet. One of the things I always liked about Google is the clean, no ads interface, the less they mess with it the better.

  • Greg

    For those of you using FireFox download the GreaseMonkey add-on and create a script using the following for all www.google.com/* pages:

    var main = document.getElementById(‘col1′);
    if (main)
    {
        document.getElementById(‘col1′).style.display = "none";
    }

     

    This little script removed the annoying left tab from my theme, hope it helps.

  • http://www.proform-reviews.com/Proform_465_RE_Bike_Review.html Crystal Layden
    I don’t like it… why are there links on the side of the page for widgets I can see right on the front page. It just takes up page width. That’s why I put them on my screen… so I could see them on my home page.

    And speaking of the front page… my Firefox Home button is iGoogle… but if I’m in the GMail tab… clicking my home button goes to GMail… NOT the normal iGoogle front page. And speaking of GMail… I don’t like the GMail tab… I’d rather be in the full GMail site.

  • http://www.moviefilmreview.com Movie Review Blog

    I like this iGoogle thing. I like the background, so simple. Let’s see in few days of using it if i won’t get bored. But i like google very much..

  • http://www.vesta-tech.net Philippines

    Like more the old one.

    • cheyenne kane

      YEAH I TOTALY AGREE WIT YEW THE OLD GMAIL STINKS AND ITS BORING THIS IS DA BOMB

  • Guest

    What’s the point of this new tab?  What was wrong with the old top-tab?  Why not give us a choice as to which we prefer to use?  Some of us still use 4:3 monitors, and the horizontal space consumed by this "new" tab is unjustified!!

  • Guest

    Another vote against the new layout. Now I see blogs discussing new start up sites with similar functionality to the old layouts. Plus greasemonkey scripts to delete the wasted left nav space. Google should have made this an option in templates….

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