Google Bows to Criticism, Changes Google News Design

9 Comments

Just two weeks after launching a new version of its Google News (s goog) site, the web giant has changed the design in response to complaints from users. While the recent redesign is still the default — with a single main column containing “top news,” along with a customized stream of content called “news for you” — users now have the ability to change back to something more like the previous grid-style layout, which includes sections for each main news topic spread over two columns.

The main focus of the Google News redesign was the introduction of the customized “news for you” section, which expanded on the customization features that the site had before and brought them to the forefront. Many other news sites and services have been making similar changes, including Digg, which is working on its own major redesign aimed at making the service more social and allowing users to customize their sources of news. And the Washington Post earlier this week acquired a startup called iCurrent, which allows users to create a kind of personalized newspaper based on their favorite topics.

It’s worth noting, however, that some users didn’t like the personalized “news for you” feature much, judging by some of the comments in a Google News support forum on the topic, as well as comments on a Nieman Journalism Lab story on the new redesign. Whether the latest changes that Google has made will pacify some of those critics remains to be seen. Personalization may be the future of news, but the reality is that some people just don’t like change, period.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Flickr user ThaRainbow

9 Comments

Joe_the_American

Matthew Ingram said, “Whether the latest changes that Google has made will pacify some of those critics remains to be seen. Personalization may be the future of news, but the reality is that some people just don’t like change, period.”

The “reality” of the situation is, my dear expert, is that the change was stupidity come to life. Change is good if it enhances a product. In this case, not “some” of the users were complaining about the new format, it was closer to 99.9%. Let’s get the facts straight here.

Virtually all the users said the format was not only less intuitive to use, it was also arbitrarily designed to actually make viewing the news more difficult.

I realize that blogging isn’t exactly journalism, but before you make sweeping generalities such as “some users” complained and “some people just don’t like change,” you should do your research and find out what the users on Google News were really saying. The issue wasn’t about change, the issue was the UI being so absolutely corrupted as to being totally useless.

When you tally all the hundreds of comments about the new format, it is obvious that it was virtually a unanimous consensus from everyone that the whole restyling of the Google News site was bad design, bad UI, and poor use of available resources.

“Some people just don’t like change,” eh? Well, some people (like you) have an elitist attitude that any change is good without thinking through the consequences. I suppose for you, global warming is good because the climate is changing? LOL.

JKT

I take issue with your conclusion “some people just don’t like change, period.” Some change is good, some isn’t. This wasn’t. Many of us tired of that “Spotlight” column that Google inserted on the right-hand side of every single news page. Some of the “news” in it was over 2 weeks old! That is change we can do without.

Yacko

“a HACKER could do nothing worse to destroy Google than they are doing to themselves”

You know you have to wonder about them. How many years have I been using news.google.com? Has it been 8? More? A constant in a roiling sea of online change. Only the most minor alterations. Then the company gets a bug up its ass about the social web and sharing, does an ill-advised redesign and completely destroys what was an efficient workflow. As the other comment says, even Googles enemies could not do more damage to the brand.

angel

GoogleNews TWEAKS FAIL
NEWS FOR YOU now restricts/eliminates original options which allowed up to 9 stories on any search subject displayed simultaneously for easy instantaneous scan/scroll by the user ….
Claims that the user can control local feeds etc are FALSE
no evidence that Google editors have read our complaints …
only responses to our suggestions/demands in the HELP FORUM are from other IRATE USERS
ie … I have been unable to change the GREATER PORTLAND news DEFAULT ???
even the claim to provide 2 column option is false … now there are THREE COLUMNS ???
a HACKER could do nothing worse to destroy Google than they are doing to themselves
THE LACK OF RESPONSE TO USER DEMANDS IS AN INSULT …
GOOGLE MUST RESTORE OUR PREVIOUS PAGE AS AN OPTION
OUR LOYALTY TO THE SITE DESERVES IT ..
ETC ETC ETC

Yacko

Too late for me. If they had done it in two days they would have had me back. I now do more RSS feeds and do not bother with Google. They had a well-oiled machine for clicky-clicks. It was perfect. What’s wrong with Google? Dunces! And that “customization” – “Do You View, Never, Sometimes, Always” and no matter what selection I clicked it didn’t seem to do anything. Buh-bye.

Mike

“some people just don’t like change, period.”

Well, you just managed to dismiss legit complaints about usability and customization with 1 phrase. Congratulations.

The new Google News actually has LESS customization available, since there are now large swaths of the site that I can’t remove or move. Tell the 6 inches of useless white space on the right hand side of my wide screen monitor that used to be filled with news how “some people just don’t like change, period.”

Spike5

Mike, you are absolutely right. People complained about losing the two-column format but that was really a short cut for saying that the changes impacted the readability. That’s why just adding the two-column option this week didn’t fix it all. It’s still a lot harder to read than before the changes, there is less content and more empty space, and because the right hand column is still there, the font is necessarily smaller.

What we really wanted was a way to keep the original format and add more customization to that.

And I would have appreciated a comment early on saying that Google was evaluating the negative responses and trying to decide how best to enhance the format to improve it. Instead we got updates from Google that said basically take it or leave it.

mobile reviews

Google has its own design, looking at the news blog as far as arbitary part is concerned.The webpage representing its standards would match the advance articles categorization.Google will have to take it seriously , after seeing a lot of critizing views.

ronald

Seems to me the days of calling a list of “arbitrary” selection features personalization are over.

Also a list view is hard on the browsing crowd. Since it’s hard to get to the information/news one is seeking. Would at least require personal prioritization of articles in categories. As a little more advanced it would require exclusion of what one already knows(don’t assume there is only one news/aggregation source).

Boils down to they don’t know how to distinguish between news and information nor what it is and how it is created. Or don’t blame the reader/user, they might have an understanding of personalization which is not reflected in statistical models (social net influence which we just discussed is not a strong point of you know who). In other words things are changing just not as some like.

Comments are closed.