The thoughts, opinions, happenings, and just plain ramblings of a seemingly boring person.

Google’s New Look of Doom & On Virgin

Google has been busy rolling out it's new look, and even after using it on a few products for a while now, it isn't getting any better for me. As i've ranted about before, the grey-washing of colours across it's services (most eye-soringly in Blogger entries) is truly perplexing.

But I can live with bland and unlively colour changes; what is bugging me the most is basic usability impediments. Google used to be really good at this type of thing, making highly usable and accessible services. Just to use the new Reader look again as an example:

Google Reader snapshot

Other than the lack of colour (the favicons for my subscribed feeds are one of the only source of non-grey colours on the page), the new look has some serious trouble dealing with resized text.

I have a bit of difficulty reading the default text size on webpages on high-resolution screens; it's far too small to read comfortably for me. I thus increase the size of the text to around 145% on the pages, which is larger but not anywhere near ridiculous. What should happen with good web interface design (and what was the case with the previous 'looks' of Reader and most other Google products), is that the text should resize gracefully as much as possible.

In this case it sure hasn't happened for a lot of areas. The 'Subscribe' button background doesn't resize with the text, and most annoyingly, the line-height for various sections such as the subscription list seems to be hard-coded, resulting in cut-off lines (vertically). The line height for other areas seems to either be more flexible or have a greater tolerance before the text begins to get cut off.

This is the case with Reader at the moment, and last time I checked the Gmail new look a few months ago, similar things happened with labels and the email list to an extent. I really expected more from a company like Google who has prided itself on accessibility and openness with most things it's done. I'm really not looking forward being forcibly migrated onto the new Gmail look, hoepfully somebody will iron out these things in the future.

In other news, I have moved my mobile phone network provider from the Vodafone-based Crazy John's (which I have been on for the past two-and-a-half years) to the Optus-based Virgin Mobile. I know that the Optus network has it's own problems, but it isn't worse that Vodafone's, and I really need data coverage when we go up to Bribie Island.

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