Are Google Products Starting to Suck?
What’s going on over at Google? I’m serious. I remember several years ago I wandered over to Google’s about page and started reading about the company’s design principles and how it aspired to create the best user experience for every single product it built. When I read that page on the site, the word Google used to describe a product which meets the appropriate balance of usefulness, innovativeness, and speed (among a few other things) was “Googley.”
This was several years ago.
Flash forward to today. I just read that Google is now releasing a new user toolbar, after releasing one back in November, which seemingly disappeared a week or so later (at least for me). What happened to the whole concept of building “Googley” products? According to the design principles page, they still aspire to build “Googley” products.
“The Google User Experience team aims to create designs that are useful, fast, simple, engaging, innovative, universal, profitable, beautiful, trustworthy, and personable. Achieving a harmonious balance of these ten principles is a constant challenge. A product that gets the balance right is “Googley” – and will satisfy and delight people all over the world.”
Apparently, they are failing to delight people. The recent Gmail redesign was met with overall mixed reviews. And lets not forget that people were up in arms about the redesign of Google Reader.
Are Google’s products starting to suck? I wouldn’t go that far, but it seems something isn’t right. To be honest, I thought the (old) new toolbar was nice. I liked it. But it obviously wasn’t serving its purpose so it got the axe. Whether that’s because it was too clunky or people just weren’t using it — I don’t know. But what I do know is that if Google killed it, it was because it wasn’t “Googely” and that is exactly what I’m getting at here.
Google released that toolbar and made a big deal about it with a blog post, a video showing it off, and a bunch of tech sites covered it — they obviously thought it would be a success.
How could they have been so wrong?
It’s not like the new revision of the toolbar is a variation of the (old) new toolbar — it actually resembles the old (black) toolbar much more than anything else (screenshots below for clarification).
The “old” Google would have been much more cautious about testing it and letting people opt-in and try it out before making a huge announcement. Is Google becoming too trigger happy with its new releases? Perhaps. After all, we are talking about a company that kept the beta logo on Gmail for more than 5 years to ensure it was absolutely perfect. You don’t see that anymore with Google.
One thing is clear though, Google needs to bring back “Googley” because without it they are just another big company throwing products at a wall and hoping one sticks.
Old Google Toolbar:
Old-new Google Toolbar:
New-new Google Toolbar: