Google and Facebook's New Looks

18 July 2011

Google and Facebook are both in the process of rolling out some changes to their interfaces; Google started soon after announcing Google+, and Facebook started just in time for everyone to log into Facebook at work Monday morning and be irritated about it.

For Google, the new look is pretty slick and integrates Google+ features (for those using the service) across most of Google’s products with a new upper bar.  The rest of the services that the change has affected now sport a new layout that is much more consistent across Google that was a long time coming, particularly for Blogger, but doesn’t change anything so significantly that anything is hard to find.  The new upper bar provides slick integration with Google+ for those using it and is more noticeable for switching between services.  So far changes have been rolled out to GMail via a preview theme, Calendar, Blogger in Draft, Search, the Help centre, YouTube, and the account page (accessible through Google+) that include a new colour scheme and in some cases, smaller logos.  I haven’t really heard any complaints about it and I don’t have any myself.

Facebook, however, introduced a new chat interface this weekend.  The new interface moves the contact list into a sidebar, moving the options to minimize the list and change availability settings into a menu.  Worse, it no longer shows only online friends- just a long list of those recently contacted, online or not, with a search at the bottom.  The annoyance resulting from this change has been amazing, at least within my group of friends, and understandably given that it makes the chat more annoying to use.  As someone who usually takes Facebook’s occasional changes in stride without any issues, I found the new chat interface extremely annoying, mainly because in the attempt at simplifying it, the interface made all the features harder to use.  The big question becomes whether or not Facebook will listen to user feedback in light of their competition with Google+.  If not…several of my friends have mentioned moving to Google+, so it will be interesting to see where it goes over the course of the week.

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