Just in time to make your candy hangover even worse, Google’s decided to fiddle with the layout/appearance of it’s Reader product. Naturally the squeaky wheel gets the up-votes, so most of the reactions getting attention are going to be negative. Let me break that trend and explain why with this post.
Over on the official Google Reader Blog, Alan Green had the task of explaining the new look and improvements. The first image posted is ideal, great use of space, very use-able and very little room for improvement:
Sure there’s a bit of ‘padding’ in the header, and there’s a bit of white space going on, but as you can see, a well used reader account won’t be staring at gulfs of great white spaces that most folks seem to be taking issue with.
The next common point of ‘contention’ is the display of news items, and the amount of screen space that the actual text is getting on the reader screen:
This really seems to be coming from the ‘more is better’ camp who only have 19″ screens. If you put things for me to read stretched across my screen from edge to edge, I would take longer to read it, and my neck would get sore from panning my large displays. If I was making this observation on my home setup it’d be even worse than my work displays.
Plus there’s already a ton of CSS hacks you can apply to change/tweak the layout to fit your needs. A Google search will dig up tons of these, I don’t need to sponsor any particular solution but the first I found did a great job of tightening up the UI.
So with all the negativity aside, what was the Google Reader update all about? Well I can sum it up with one word “Google+”.
To quote the official reader blog:
The ability to +1 a feed item (replacing “Like”), with an option to then share it with your circles on Google+ (replacing “Share” and “Share with Note”).
Integrating with Google+ also helps us streamline Reader overall. So starting today we’ll be turning off friending, following, shared items and comments in favor of similar Google+ functionality.
So it was a needed update, with a bit of give and take. The authors of the post knew there’d be feedback, negativity, and the usual ‘quiet riot’ around the changes. They even suggested, to anyone that doesn’t leave over the update (their words not mine), that comments and concerns would be great to hear. Plus they also gave a handy link to the import/export settings so your decision to stay doesn’t have to be marred by concerns of how to make the switch.
Now we move on to discuss the new GMail UI changes.. Does it ever end?