So apparently @sacca hates the gmail redesign. I love it. It’s exactly my style so maybe I shouldn’t be trying to convince anyone else to like it, but I’ll try to be objective.

I’m not sure what exactly he doesn’t like about it, but I feel like I have an idea. It’s like when Microsoft Office introduced “the ribbon”. People who had to use Office everyday hated it because they had years invested in learning how to use Office the way it was before. Why did they have to change it? The thing is, once they got used to the ribbon they realized that everything they were used to in Office was still there, just in a different place. Still, why did they change it? Right?

I think the new Google interface is clearly better than the old one – you just have to get used to using it. It’s clean, responsive, and spread across all their properties. I don’t think I need to explain why a clean, unified interface is good, but some people might not understand exactly what responsive means. It’s most useful if you’re using a large monitor – or switch between large and small screens. Go to Gmail and change the “display density” to comfortable. Now resize the browser. You’ll see that it automatically resizes to “compact” on smaller screens. It doesn’t work so well on super small screen sizes, but with a great mobile version of gmail, they don’t really need that. If you use a large monitor on a daily basis, this is good for you. Instead of being stuck with a UI that has to work on 1024 pixel wide monitors, you get an interface that was designed to be used on a larger screen.

Best Changes

  1. The first thing I noticed about the new design was the “Mail” dropdown in the top left. It’s a rare day when I use Google Contacts on the desktop and I never touch Google Tasks. I’ve been sick of seeing those for a long time.
  2. You can completely hide the invites and the chat. This isn’t the little +/- button that just minimizes the container they’re in. You literally don’t have to look at that invite section ever again.
  3. You can resize the chat list. If you’re in a chatty mood, you can hide every label except “Inbox” and “Important”. The chat box will resize if you hover over the labels on the left indicating that you’d like to see them all.
  4. Display Density. You can have a bit more of a comfortable layout if your screen resolution allows it, or keep it compact on the smaller screens.
  5. Unified interface. Having the same interface on YouTube, Google Docs, Google Reader, etc. is exactly how it should be. And you get all the same benefits from a responsive design in those places that you get in Gmail.