The Google Reader Rant!

Dear Google. You feel threatened by Facebook, I get it. You launch Google+, which I appreciate for its features, but don’t really use. I get it.

Other than Gmail, Search, YouTube, and Maps, the only other Google product that I use regularly is Reader. I am sure I spend more time it on than any other webapp. And I was a happy user. Content that Google did not really pay attention to it. Content that Google did not meddle around much with it, and let it be what it was meant to be – useful.

However, I am not happy anymore. You’ve taken my favorite app, and rendered it useless in the name of redesign and social strategy. I don’t get it.

You have removed the sharing features, without allowing the user any option. May I ask why?? To push people to Google+?? From a service that some (passionate) users swear by, to a service that not many use, at least regularly?? I will try and understand. Some ass could have suggested this. However, you could have handled this better. Here is what I think you should have done.

  1. Create a feature that would allow people to (in a single click) create Google Circle containing the users they were following on Reader.
  2. Allow, again in a single click, users to (by means of RSS or whatever suits your whims and fancies) follow the Reader shares of people in their Reader circle.
  3. Allow for simpler sharing – clicking share should have shared the post (by default) with your Reader circle.
  4. For further conversation and comments, taken users to the Google+ page for the particular post.

The benefits of this method. Satisfied users. More traffic driven to Google+. No??

The second point. Redesign. Should Reader look like GMail?? Not necessarily!! But then again, I am no design guru, But I am an understanding user. Maybe consistency is what you were aiming for. Unfortunately, what you ended up with is decreased usability. You see, the key feature of Reader is …. wait for it …. the ability to read. And the redesign has killed that.

The current usable are for content is less than sixty percent. While the total screen area (on my laptop) is approximately 1280×670 pixels, the area for actual content is 1010×490 pixels (rough approximates – screenshots below). That is, the content is on less than 60% of the screen space. Let me repeat that for you. Less than 60%

Total Screen Area for Google Reader
Total Screen Area for Google Reader
Area available for content in Google Reader
Area available for content in Google Reader

While, I believe that this problem will be solved soon by some hacker (God bless his noble soul) using JavaScript, I am not so sure what are you going to do about sharing. I hope someone comes back to senses at Google, rolls back the madness, and talks to Kevin Fox Рhe has done it before, and I believe he can do it again.

Please give me back my precious!