Updated: April 22, 2013
When Google announced their new Compose, my initial reaction was: meh, who cares. But when my wife spotted this thing in her Gmail and called me over to tell me: WTF is this shit? I knew I had a nice, long rant coming. Hence, I am here, you are here, and we have this awesome article. Parental guidance is advised from this point on.
So I shall tell you all I think of this latest of Google's changes and how it features in the bigger scope of things. Do not mistake this beautiful article for a random outburst toward Google. This company still leads when it comes to UI design, in pretty much everything, but they are on a fast track to retardation. You will get the lovely truth of things, as I see it, and then I'm gonna offer improvements, because I am smart and generous.
The new Compose
Well, it turns out that Google is no longer satisfied with providing normal, sane and practical UI for their users, which has been one of their leading advantages in the past, over cheesy and cluttered rival solutions, they are so deep in the orgy with Facebook, and it's up to Google now to show they can pull a bigger turd from their colon.
Anyhow, the notable differences include: functionality is hidden away, you need extra clicks to get there; the compose windows is positioned in the right bottom corner.
Not a biggie, but when a person like my wife, and imagine how tolerant and patient she must be to live with a git like me all these years, when someone like her sees this crap and gets pissed of, then you know you have a thermonuclear bomb worth of feces steaming up from your pixels. See where I'm getting? Ah, nothing like a few screenshots to spice the mood. Here we go. As you may have already seen, the new Compose changes the layout from this:
To something like this:
Are you bloody mental?
All right, time to begin my rant. We have two obvious trends cropping in the new Compose, a combination of smartphone shit mentality and Windows 8 flat boredom.
I can only imagine a bunch of morons wearing their corporate badges round their necks like the proud zombies they are, wasting millions of dollars, a whole bloody cost center worth of money, designing this crap. Why? Because it looks cool, that's why.
But if you examine the new UI from a saner perspective, you will see how stupid and cretinous it really is. First, for most people composing messages in English language, the top left orientation is the natural one. You begin writing in the top corner of a page, on the left side. Right? You've all been doing, even the Y and Z generation, they have all been doing it in school.
So what did Google decide to do - shift the writing focus to right bottom corner. How incredible awesome. Not. Excellent for a language written right to left, bottom to top, only I am not aware of any such language.
Why the hell would I want to have that compose window in the bottom right corner! Why? What kind of sick logic is this? Maybe this is some social experiment to see how the crowds would react? Or maybe just corporate stupidity gone wild?
Just look at all that wasted equity:
And it gets worse when you maximize the browser window. Just look at how ridiculous this thing is when spread on a 1920x1080px screen. It's probably even worse on higher resolutions and larger monitors. Does this look logical to you?
Second, in the past, you could format your text instantly, just by using some of the dozen buttons available just above the writing area. You could change indentation, font weight, color, and other things. The new Compose still has all these options, but they will only be revealed when you hover your mouse above some of the generic icons at the bottom of the compose window. So not only do you need an extra mouse click for every option you want to use, you also have to shift focus from the top of the writing space to the bottom.
Moreover, this makes Google's layout different from all other writing tools, including various text editors, word processors and other software that you can possibly think of, most notably office suites.
The simplification of the GUI leans toward the new and carefree bullshit philosophy of the smartphone age, and you get the Windows 8 nonsense in the form of unneeded mouse actions and clicks that complicate your work flow.
This is a failure of colossal magnitude, but do not let me stop you from dreaming and enjoying your digital heaven. After all, change is good, right. It does not matter what it is, as long as you have constant activity in the guise of innovation, because that's what investors like. Screw this.
What could have been done better
I am not all about ranting. Here's practical advice, and believe me, if everyone heeded me, the world would be a much more efficient place. So Googlepeople [sic], please do pay attention, this is how you fix this thingie and make your compose look normal.
Default position: top left
You want this new smartphone era thingie? No problem. Set the default position where the old compose was. Then, allow users to snap the window to left or right corner, top or bottom. That way, you provide a sane workflow and let everyone choose their own settings.
If you think this through carefully, you will see that Google is actually harming its own profit because normally, Google ads are located in a horizontal banner just above the old Compose, or they are located in a vertical sidebar on the right side, which is now partially hidden by the new feature. Or at least, the focus is no longer there. Google, I am thinking of your wealth! Google, do you wanna make money? Google, you are hiding your own advertisements, your own revenue vectors. Seriously. Are you so enamored with the smartphone mentality, and/or so afraid of Facebook that you are losing it?
Yes, if you think about it, the right bottom position is designed to mimic Facebook chat, where people usually write very short, simple messages. Multitasking? Same like Facebook, you open several chat windows side by side, you do the same silly crap here. So Google's answer to Facebook popularity is, let's do what they do. Holy shit. Are you so bloody desperate?
Well, if that senior principal engineer position you have is still open, I am willing to come in and save you from self ruin. Honestly, USD360K a year, plus benefits, and we can work out some deal. I am so creative, you can synthesize my genius and sell it in large packages.
Make the new Compose window movable/resizable
It cannot be moved. You can pop it out as a separate window, but it cannot be dragged and dropped around the desktop. Give it wings, make it fly. That way, you solve the problem of position and overlap to a natural position of a user's eyes on their screen. Anyone can choose the comfortable focus zone and get the best productivity. The same goes for the compose window size.
Here, my own mockup, so much better - you can still stack them if you want, the flow is natural and sane, and you do not hide your own revenue streams, which is quite self defeating. If this were MY company, I would be FIRING the program manager and the product manager for making this amateurish fiasco. Someone in top management must have a lovely presentation that explains how this new Compose cures cancer, and they probably are showing it to their workers during mandatory department meetings, but this does not change the fact it's designed with IQ 75 in mind, for morons who live in the casual and now. Meteor, oh meteor, please, please, strike this planet now.
Google! I just handed you a cost center worth of design in 17 minutes of GIMP, and my product is so much better than yours. Here's another suggestion, add a switch, for normal people and for morons, and then anyone can use their favorite UI and be as productive as their gene pool allows them.
An unrelated proposal for Google
I have a wicked idea. I have a strategy that I would like to suggest. It would not be so much any individual product, but more sort of a framework for building products and creating a unique user experience.
Let's call it <CENSORED> Rape. Replace the word censored with, you know.
The framework would work as follows:
- Take any perfectly sane and fully functional product.
- Dumb it down for morons who jerk off to Hentai on their smartphones.
- Use them as the pillar for your future market success.
- Justify this as a transformation of whatever or some crap like that.
- Keep not having a feedback button in your products.
- Change it again in a year so you can justify the pay of a few more code monkeys.
- Never admit failure, just silently move on and adapt as you recuperate your losses.
- Send a silver-plated middle-finger statue to your customers to show them you care.
And here's the new logo I designed for this framework:
The best part is, in the real world, people who generate and make money are people who can operate their opposing thumbs well, who can craft sentences longer than a Twatter message, and who generally need efficiency more than they need the latest trend in music and shit. These people are the foundation of economy, and when you ignore them in the design of your products, you are hurting yourself in the long run.
Most people just rant. On the other hand, I, give golden advice. Really. If you think about it, I just handed Google the golden formula for making their new design a success. Make the compose window resizable, dragable, with the default top position, and Bob's your uncle. And if they do this, no more anger, no more worries.
So there it is. What's next, you ask? Is this a reason to abandon Gmail and switch to an alternative? No, not really. Because everyone is so feverish about this latest smartphone craze, that they are losing judgment. It's no longer the matter of productivity, it's just who gets more buzz. It's sad really. You should expect to see more crap of this size, shape and flavor in future products, made by Google as well as the competition. All in a vain attempt to marry concepts that simply do not fit. As they like to say in a faraway land, a fox and an elephant together do not mate. But at least you know where things stand. Peace.