As a user of many (but not all) Google Apps, I have a very important request.
Please give us users some control over the apps that are listed in the Google bar (I’m not sure what you’ve named it).
I’m an avid user of Google Reader; I consumer virtually all web content with it. With that in mind, I was pretty peeved when Reader was removed from the top bar. I get that many people don’t use it, but I do. A lot.
Here are some solutions that would make me very happy, and I’m betting would further endear you to many of your users.
Two Options to Fix The Problem
Give users control of all or some of the links in that bar.
It’s a simple thing to do, and that level of personalization would absolutely improve the Google user-experience.
Google, I know that you know what Google Apps I’m using. You know that I know that.
Why not adjust that bar based on usage?
Either solution would make me a very happy geek.
The Geek Whisperer
Am I the only person who feels like Google drops features into their application like they’re easter eggs?
I recently clicked this arrow in Gmail, and discovered an incredible feature that I don’t think they informed users of (could be wrong).
As it turns out, that’s where they hid the advanced search options. Spoiler Alert – They’re great!
When was this added? I have no idea. It could have been there since the New Gmail Beta, and I missed it.
They do seem to add and change functionality on the fly. I’m cool with it, but I’d like to know that these features exist.
Perhaps Google can put a “something new” call-out on the page, or just draw attention to some of the more obscure features.
Do you know any of Google’s hidden features?
This is just plain old weird.
Apple.com via a mobile browser:
Seriously? Apple.com isn’t mobile optimized? The “design meets technology to form magical blah blah blah, and birthed the mobile web into existence,” company never bothered to optimize their own website?
Note to Apple fanboys & girls: That “apps downloaded” ticker doesn’t count as mobile optimized. It’s lazy, and ironically self-celebratory.
Android.com via a mobile browser:
And Google isn’t off the hook on this either. “Mobile first,” Google never bothered to create a mobile-friendly version of their mobile operating system’s website? This is pathetic.
Us.Blackberry.com via a mobile browser:
You already know where this is going…
I can’t even get annoyed by this because I would have been honestly surprised if RIM got something right in 2012.
Windows Phone 7′s website via a mobile browser:
Surprise! It is mobile optimized…
… But only if you’re viewing the website in landscape. Switch to portrait and it’s improperly formatted.
This is so very Microsoft.
It shouldn’t be too much to ask the companies leading the mobile revolution to properly optimize their websites’ for mobile. It’s not like they have a lack of capable design or development talent.
Typography is the art of arranging and selecting fonts. Non-designers usually don’t even know the word, let alone how to do it well.
I’m not a designer, but in working with them over the years, I’ve picked up some basic knowledge.
When designing anything with type, it’s been my experience that non-designers usually screw their work from the get go by choosing a fancy-looking fonts like comic sans, papyrus or an unreadable script.
The best tip I’ve learned is to pick a simple, balanced, sans-serif font like Trebuchet or Helvetica.
What’s a sans-serif?
Sans-serif don’t have anything hanging off them:
Why use a sans-serif?
They are clean and simple, and as a result, they are easy to use.
Here’s an example, imagine we’re trying to choose a typeface for a new company called, Incredible Inc.
Trebuchet looks clean, simple, professional and readable.
Comic Sans is readable when it’s large, but doesn’t look clean or professional.
Times New Roman is a bit cramped and busy.
And the script is absolutely brutal to read.
Do what you like, but using Helvetica or Trebuchet is an easy way to make text look visually appealing without having to build up all of the skills and experience necessary to understand design.
I hope you enjoy the new navigation, and design.
I’ll be posting daily again.
I love finding free and code-less ways to help people accomplish their web needs. Specifically for this reason I started to mess around with different ways of using about.me.
about.me lets you create a single splash page that can link out to other websites. It’s intended for personal splash pages like this little exercise in narcissism… DavidSpira.net (It’s a work in progress, and so is the Behance profile).
That profile is built from the stock stuff that about.me provides, then I purchased the domain davidspira.net from Hover.com, and mapped the domain to my about.me page. It was simple, and took me about an hour… It would have been less if I had been less finicky about the typography.
Eventually I will browbeat Mark Krajnak into shoot a new portrait of me to serve as the background.
Here’s a less typical application of about.me for you.
After many years in education, my mother is starting a new college counseling business.
I’ve been doing my best to help her get it off the ground, but one thing she needed was a placeholder web page so that she could put her URL on her business cards
I don’t code a ton these days, but I could make a single holding page in HTML, the thing is that if my mom wanted to make a change, I would have to change it, and that’s a pain for everyone.
So I threw together a quick holding page in about.me. It has everything you would want in a holding page (StepByStepCollege.com):
- Business name
- Description of the business
- Teaser of what’s to come
- Email button
- When the logo is finished, we can add that too
The beauty of this is that my mom is in complete control of the page, if she wants to make a change, she can do it simply, and without having to ask anyone for help. It makes both of our lives easier.
When we’re ready to launch the real site, we will, but until then, she doesn’t have a dead link.
What’s an age gate?
They’re those stupid intermediary pages that make you input your date of birth to prove you are older than 18.
Who is this stopping?
WHO IS THIS STOPPING!!!
There are only two kinds of people who are stopped by this:
- People who can’t speak English and haven’t figured out how to use Google Translate
- Children who will eventually earn Darwin Awards
Age gates are a useless and annoying waste of time. We should banish them from the Internet.