for more information contact skot@penguinstorm.com

current
On Trump
Bob Dylan - Wisdom is Thrown Into Jail
Bob Dylan: Tempest
Adam West voices the Dark Knight
Apple's Calendar Inconsistency
Is Pono Dead?
Inbox Zero is Old News: Welcome to Inbox Negative One
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Effects Reel
Evolution of Stop Motion Photography
7 Story Cycling Centric Apartments


recent
What Happened to Jai Alai?
Greatest Text Conversation Ever
Quarry Rock in the Rain
Careless Reckless Love
Electricity, Heights and Women
Daniel Lanois and his AC30
How Can You Just Leave Me Standing Alone in a World So Cold
Today Was a Tough Day
The Resonant Frequency of Love - Rocco DeLuca with Daniel Lanois
Dan Mangan - Forgetery
Birch Tree: Toronto, 2016
Japan's Disposable Workers
Jeff Tweedy Plays Charades with Ewan McGregor
Steph Cameron at the Railway Club (February 1, 2016)
Wilco at the CityFolk Festival, Ottawa (September 20, 2015)
Rice Lake, North Vancouver
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Running Away
Stanley Rohatinski: 1925 - 2015
Chewie...we're home!


archives
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
October 2015
April 2015
March 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
August 2014
May 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
July 2003
June 2003
January 2003
November 2002
October 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
May 2001
April 2001
January 2001
October 1999


categories
America
Books
Camera
Canada
Cycling
Design
Entertainment
Family
Food
Friends
Inanities
Marketing
Music
Narcicism
Nature
Penguins
Politics
Quebec
Science
Sports
Technology
Travel
Tweets
Vancouver
Words


randomness
your blue hood
Thin Systems
Listen to the Bell, Mr. Premier...It Tolls for Thee
Gordon Campbell Won't Run Again?
Bike Maintenance Lessons: Disc Brake Pads
Cycling is Mainstream Transportation
Brave New World: The Musical
Perennial Also Ran?
Daniel Lanois and his AC30
Dan Mangan - Forgetery

I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
And did you get my message / On the People's Radio? I wrote it in Alberta /Across the prairie spine.
— Rheostatics, Northern Wish
January 28, 2007
Google’s Interface Single Mindedness

My Personalized Google Homepage

People praise Google for the simplicity of its interface, but in many cases this simplicity is taken to the extreme.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the new features offered on Google’s personalized home page service.

Many people aren’t even aware that Google offers personalized home pages — yet another example of interface extremism. The standard Google home page does little to make visitors aware of the existence of the service.

In what I would suggest is a very good thing, Google offers the ability to add any standard RSS feed to your Google home page. This use of standards is something that needs to be supported.

There are a number of problems though.

Rearranging Items

Items can be moved around on your home page, but learning how can be difficult. The technology here is impressive — you simply grab the header bar (or title bar) of the content section you want to move and drag it.

The problem is that this is not how web applications have typically behaved…it’s dramatically different. Even with years of experience and an awareness that this type of thing could be done, it took me more than a few days to figure this one out.

There’s no help link either, which left me thrashing through the preferences section where I would have expected to find it.

Clicking on those titles to go to the souce sites’ home page is awkwards too. My mouse pointer changes to a move this item style of pointer, and I’m never sure if I’ve clicked.

No Information Hierarchy

With all those title bars scattered around the page, it’s virtually impossible to tell one from the other. There’s no way as a user that I can categorize or create an information hierarchy to the information.

Colour would be an easy one to implement — offering me a selection of colours (even a limited one such as those offered in Microsoft Word) would allow me to create a hierarchy. Being able to choose font sizes and styles would also be useful.

Tabs have been added (they’re very subtlely visible in the upper left hand corner) but this doesn’t create hierarchy it creates additional pages, resulting in multiple portals rather than a single, well organized portal.

Those Annoying Plus Signs

A recent addition to the page were those annoying plus signs beside each item in an RSS feed. Clicking the plus sign does exactly what I expect it too — expands the title to display a box containing the entry information (or whatever information is included in the RSS feed.) The plus sign converts to a minus, and clicking the minus closes the expanded information box.

The problem is that ths offers little value with some, and there’s no way to choose whether or not to have them active or not.

They don’t, for example, appear beside my gmail entries where they could be wonderfully useful. They do appear beside the RSS feed for SEED Magazine, where the magazine length articles are impossible to read.

Those annoying plus signs appeared one day, with no information. That’s bad user relationship.

Nine Items Maximum

Each section lists nine items max. No exceptions. When I was using my gmail address as my primary address, nine email messages just wasn’t enough to be useful.

Custom Widgets

Of course, there are a huge number of custom widgets provided that interrupt the monotony — these are equally inconsistent and offer little in the way of personalization. They’re existence doesn’t do much to solve the problem. As an experienced user, it just frustrates me more.

Personal Should Be Personal

Google is trying to do something noble here by offering a standards compliant personalization system. Unfortunately, their rigid adherence to interface minimalism has resulted in a personalized service that’s incredibly impersonal.

Posted by skooter at 6:58 PM This entry is filed under Technology.
This entry is tagged: Google, Information Architecture

blog comments powered by Disqus