A classic example of how Google screws up design "Product people - Product managers, product designers, UX designers, UX researchers, Business analysts, developers, makers & entrepreneurs September 09 2015 True Chrome, Design, Google+, Rage, Ux, Mind the Product Mind the Product Ltd 347 Product Management 1.388

A classic example of how Google screws up design

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OSX Lion brought a lot of multitouch gestures into applications. One of my favourites is the two finger swipe right/left to go back/forwards in Safari. When you scroll to the page limits, Apple shows off that elastic rebound they mastered so well on iOS.

If the back/forward function is available on that page, your swipe will slide the current page aside showing you a screenshot of the the previous/next page behind it. Release to slide the page away, or just pull it back.

Google brought it to Chrome.
Two finger swipe right = back a page.
Two finger swipe left = forward a page.

And like the engineers that they are, it does exactly that. No unnecessary visual flair like Apple, just the ‘minimalist’ function. They’re so smart.

But what they don’t ever seem to comprehend is that all of that unnecessary flair is purposefully included. It describes more information to the user than the Googlers ever seem to realise. Frankly, Apple’s designs can sometimes seem a little over the top but with a little investigation you’ll see that they are perfectly minimal in themselves. Every piece of visual feedback they include is functional, you just have to find out why.

You see if I scroll horizontally on Chrome — which is also two finger swipe — as soon as I hit the edge, Chrome sends me back or forward a page. Sometimes, just nothing happens. Wow, that is predictable, informative, and not ever going to get annoying.

I saw this in Chrome Canary build a while ago so I checked my browser version for which build channel I’m on. Not even beta… this is the public release version!

Google, I love you, I use your products more than any other product in my entire life (maybe not a pen). But you’re fucking idiots when it comes to design. Dustin Curtis said recently: with 500,000 tiny tweaks Android could be as a good as iOS. Who knows the number, but he’s right. Start looking after the details and you’ll find a much larger userbase readily embracing your products.

8 thoughts on “A classic example of how Google screws up design

  1. i care to disagree…

    from a web designers perspective, the native Safari swipe animation can be found restrictive.

    if you were building a modern browser-app or a wesbite with seamless ‘AJAXified’ navigation which doesn’t reload the whole page at every request and wanted to implement your own custom animation when some content gets changed and a new browser history state is created (utilizing hashChange event or the new HTML5 pushState method), say a flip transition, then you’d face a rather serious design restriction.

    what then happens, is that you see both animations: first Safari plays it’s native slide-on/off animation, then jump.. and then the custom animation plays. above-mentioned ‘visual feedback’ gets well distorted adn rendered negative and users, designers, Apple.. everybody loses.

    i don’t know what Chrome’s swipe looked like 1.5 years ago but the big arrows that reveal themselves when swiping are far less rude in that respect.

    in conclusion, i too value highly the creative contributions of both Google and Apple but in this case i see the mishap in Apple’s yard.

  2. Just a quick note, if they had added such flair to the back and forward commands, they probably would have been sued by Apple, who not only mastered swipe and bounce in iOS, but also patented it.

  3. Just a quick note, if they had added such flair to the back and forward commands, they probably would have been sued by Apple, who not only mastered swipe and bounce in iOS, but also patented it.

  4. Google release things in beta. Had you considered that perhaps its not finished yet? Granted – Chrome is out of beta but is being updated on a very aggressive cycle.

    I’m sure if you look at the detail they go into researching web page design in other areas of their business you would understand that they know this visual feedback is not just unnecessary polish but actually meaningful to the user rather than assuming they are just retarded.

    Just chill out and think about the fact that you still use their products, even without that stuff. So, yes it matters to have the skeuomorphic elements but why go to the bother of implementing them if you use it anyway?

    ps. quite the need for profanity?

  5. Google release things in beta. Had you considered that perhaps its not finished yet? Granted – Chrome is out of beta but is being updated on a very aggressive cycle.

    I’m sure if you look at the detail they go into researching web page design in other areas of their business you would understand that they know this visual feedback is not just unnecessary polish but actually meaningful to the user rather than assuming they are just retarded.

    Just chill out and think about the fact that you still use their products, even without that stuff. So, yes it matters to have the skeuomorphic elements but why go to the bother of implementing them if you use it anyway?

    ps. quite the need for profanity?

    1. Henri might be enraged but I think he has a point. Unless I’m mistaken, this post isn’t about that one feature implementation, it’s the fact is that user experience is low on their priority list and this is one clear example of that mentality which persists across their whole product culture. It’s arguably a similar logic that led to clam shell packaging. Arguably.

      1. Fair enough, but the article seems to be based on the assumption that Google don’t realise why the polish is there. I’m arguing that I’m sure they’re perfectly aware of it and purposefully leaving it out for a valid reason which happens to fit their business model / personal desire. To suggest otherwise is insulting and almost certainly wrong. How can anyone involved in that business look at  Apple’s product and not notice it, really?? Get real. One might also imagine if one wanted to add fuel to the fire that if they did add it in, they’d be chided for copying Apple and we wouldn’t want that would we.

        “User experience is low on their priority list” … “across their whole product culture” is a bit of a sweeping generalisation too.

        Clamshell packaging is design as a result of prioritising retailer’s needs over consumer’s needs – (if we’re talking about the kind of impenetrable, transparent world of pain that flash memory products come surrounded in) – yes its probably simialr logic but right at the other end of the spectrum.

  6. In general I always said this about Google. Their non-caring attitude about design is frustrating to me. Actually I didn’t know Chrome was able to do the two finger swipe. I tried it while reading the article and it still didn’t do it. But then realized it was actually trying to load the other page but with no visual clues. Just because it’s not doing the nice animation Safari is doing, I had no clue it was actually loading. What a terrible user experience.

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