The new Gmail look and feel…

Google’s rolling out their new look and feel to Gmail. After playing with the beta for most of the week, I have two complaints.

1: I would like a more contrast between messages.  Here’s the main window using the current, “classic” look and feel:

Whattaya think, should I put Fathi in touch with the ICC Int’l Cricket lottery?

In the new motif,   the separator line is thinner/lighter/both because there is more vertical padding.    As I spend a lot of time looking at mail all day, the lack of visual cue is tiresome on my fortystomething eyes.  The current message indicator has changed from a delta (small, black, right-pointing triangle) to a thin, blue vertical bar.  The bar is easier to see when you j-down/k-up, but it would be better done in red, like the one used to identify the specific “label” (folder).

If spammers ever employ spelling checkers, we’re doomed.

The compact theme offers the same vertical padding as the original, but the “new” motif.  The lack of contrast on the horizontal message separators is more problematic.

Compact mode: Spam takes up 25% less vertical space.

The other themes look like they’d be better, but after several hours’ use, are harder on the eyes.

2. Give me my label space back.  In the original treatment, one can designate labels as “Show always,” “Show only if there’s something new” and “Never show.”   The dynamic nature is great, something that Outlook should copy.  I use it a lot for high-volume groups like “Seattle Tech” and “Seattle Randonneurs” that I want to shunt to separate folders rather than “bing” me every time someone responds all.

In the new motif, the space for labels is accordioned so chat appears above the fold.   (Again, notice the lack of contrast in the separator thingy.)  When you move the mouse over, labels expand back to full height.   It’s annoying because I have to be proactive in seeing if Seattle Tech has new content.

Ye Olde LookenFeelNew
Left column - currently

What I think they should have done: define blobs of content into “wide” and “narrow.”  Then, let users rearrange things as necessary.  Yahoo’s ben doing this since the early 00s on their my.yahoo.com portal.   Alternatively: let me shut the chat thing down entirely.

On the plus side: the new icons are nice looking and have useful hover help.

6 thoughts on “The new Gmail look and feel…”

  1. Ah, so #2 is easy to fix: just drag the little thingie (with the horizontal line and three dots below it, centered) down a bunch and it won’t accordion.

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