As part of the Google Girl Gang here at WMT, I am always intrigued by Google’s updates to their current tools. I have been using Gmail for years and love almost everything about it, but agree that there are areas where it could be improved. After playing with the new design, I have to say I’m still on the fence about the changes the user experience team has made to Gmail.
For those that haven’t had the chance or desire to upgrade (or should I say “change”, whether or not it’s an upgrade is still up for debate) to the new design, here is a run down of the new features:
- HD Themes-Themed Gmail is nothing new, but now you are able to add iStockPhoto imagery to add some color to your email. I initially tried the beach theme-but it was too distracting and cluttered my screen, so I opted for one of the color themes instead-I’m not sold on this being a huge improvement-while I like things to look pretty, the photo’s, at least for work email, are just too distracting since the messages themselves are translucent, allowing the images of the theme behind your conversations to be seen.
- Density – You can choose how many or how few email messages you want to have displayed by selecting Comfortable, Cozy or Compact. I like the Cozy setting, but this will end up being a personal preference.
- Streamlined Conversations-With the addition of pictures next to people’s emails and minimized clutter, email threads are supposed to be easier to follow. They do provide an alternating color scheme for email threads, which does make it easier to see the different responses instead of lumping them all together, but I’m not certain that this is a huge improvement-I’ll get back with you after I have a few more days to play with the new interface.
- Better Email Search – Now this one really interests me-you are able to do more elaborate searches right from the search bar vs. having to open up “Search Options”. I ♥ this feature so far! I’m constantly searching for old emails and this allows me to do so more efficiently – big thumbs up for this one!
- Easily Resize your Chats and Labels-This navigation allows you to choose how much space your chats and labels take up on the left hand side of your screen. I personally had my chats on the right side and labels on the left in the old version of Gmail since I used both features often, but it appears that the Right Hand Chat Lab is no longer available in the new version. They do have an easy toggle feature between the chat section and the gadget section though, so I’m sure this is something that users will adapt to very quickly.
Ultimately, if you use Gmail, you will eventually be switched over to the NEW user interface. There is an option to revert back to the old look “TEMPORARILY’, but why wait! Go ahead and dive right in and let us know what YOU think!