Saturday, April 21, 2012

Living with New Interfaces

After weeks of asking Google mail to revert to the old look, I find I no longer have that option.  Similarly, I'm being forced to write this post using the new blogger interface. 

I suppose I'll be open-minded and try them, since Google is not giving me a choice.  I realize I'm not the only one to complain about that by any means.  Perhaps I'll quickly adjust, and after a few days I'll agree with Google that the new systems are better.

But perhaps not.  I think software builders fail to recognize the level at which people grow accustomed to their tools.  Changing the interface is forcing me to change the way I've worked for multiple years.  If I don't like having to make that change, it's a fine opportunity for me to change the product I use.  As long as I'm being forced to learn something new to get done familiar tasks, maybe it's time I learn something really new. 

Google's done the math and decided this is best for them.  They've figured that most of us will adjust to and even like the changes after a short period of time.  We'll see.  But if anyone's decided this is a good time to jump ship or thinks they have better options, let us all know in the comments.  


Anonymous said...

my grandmother has a very hard time to adjust to new technology, too ;-)
in general, I think it's not just user interfaces. things evolve and those who got used to previous versions or outdated things are expected to adapt. it is free after all.
I however agree that with old-fashioned software (actually even with apps) one has the choice to just not update and stick to the old version. with web services one cannot do that anymore.

edwardahirsch said...

So far, I am still using the old interface. I do not close the tab, and when my login cookie expires, I log in using another tab and continue using the previous tab.

I fear that would not last for long :-(

p07gbar said...

The problem with all these tools like gmail and facebook is that, although we are the users, we are also the product and really have very little leverage over what they do. Yeah one or two might leave, but that involves finding another service and therefore another UI. If there is no money changing hands its hard to envisage any responsibility. Its just the free Internet trade-off...

Anonymous said...

I am going to stop using Google+. I really hate their new interface that much.

Anonymous said...

Re alternatives: a happy user here. The reason for my migration from Gmail was not the new web interface but a particular annoyance in their IMAP interface: the folders are defined by the tags as opposed to being plain folders (this forces same messages to be downloaded multiple times and in general this abuse of the IMAP protocol feels awkward).

Fastmail's service is reasonably priced and comes with many other niceties (among which I use: nameservers and basic file hosting space). The devs behind the service (who are befriendable on the forums) seem committed to faithfully implementing the standards (incl. the pieces of IMAP with spotty support such as those for push functionality). Generic clients work well, no need for custom gmail-apps (e.g. I use LogicMail on work Blackberry).

A feature (among many) of Fastmail that's particularly useful to me is the scriptable rules to put balls into bins. Also, although I use it extremely rarely, the web interface is superior to gmail's efficiency-wise and even customizable via user-supplied CSS code.

Perhaps this might qualify as "something really new" if you're interested.

Anonymous said...

the issue goes beyond getting used to. The new interface is really bad. There is no theme with black text of white background option, and some themes are really atrocious (I wonder why are they even there?) Also, notice the new themes do not have any boundaries and its really hard to focus in the new interface (tons of frames w/o scrollbars and boundaries).

I've re-discovered hotmail in past couple of days. its so much cleaner, has sweep options, and automatically pulled all my gmail/forwards gmail to my account. But I still miss the old gmail though..

JL said...

Beyond the uniformization of Google's services, I think this has less to do with Google believing the interface is better... and more to do with the fact that the old one grew organically over some ten years.

I think they decided not that their users needed a new interface, but that if they were going to continue to expand/maintain Gmail, it was time to rebuild the damn thing from the ground up.

Honestly, as a programmer, I'm surprised the "we've got redo everything from scratch" urge didn't hit them before!!

As a user, I hate the new interface. Some choices make no sense...