/docs/community?hl=en
/docs/community?hl=en
2/2/11
Original Poster
Sisyphus

The New Refreshed Documents List is DREADFUL

Usually when Google makes changes to its apps they are, for the most part, better (with a few wrinkles to be ironed out, perhaps).  And of course it's difficult to please all of the people all of the time.
BUT
I have cross posted this from the Google Docs Blog to here in the hope that someone from Google will reconsider many of the changes that have been made in the latest refresh of the Google Documents List.  And I am not a lone voice in expressing these thoughts.

The more I have used the new Google Docs list, the more frustrated I have become. Instead of trying to harmonise with other Google web apps and use a similar user interface (Gmail is the outstanding example), the Google Docs team seems to have gone out of its way to make Google Docs look and work differently.

GOOD (let's try to be balanced)
1) The application does seem quicker. That's good!
2) The Home view is probably useful.

NEUTRAL
3) The change by renaming Folders to Collections is OK. Not sure why you need to do that but it's not a big deal for me.

BAD
4) Label Colouring. The strip of color to the left of the label instead of the entire label being coloured makes it harder to see at a glance what labels are applied to a document. This is particularly true for labels with similar colours (e.g. differing shades of green). Why change something that worked perfectly well and was the same in Google Docs and Gmail?

5) Wasted White Space. There is a now a vast waste of screen real estate. Much of the information that used to be visible on screen for every document has been relegated to the right-hand side panel which means that you have to select each document before you can see the information. This is a complete pain and applies to points 6 - 8 below:

6) Sharing Icons. You have taken away the very helpful icons that showed at a glance the sharing settings for each document. Why? This is really daft.

7) Last Editor. Same thing. Now you have to click each document (being careful not to accidentally open it) to see who last modified it.

8) Date and Time. Same thing. Ludicrous, really.

9) Folders or "collections" appear in the document list. As Greg (in the Google Docs Blog) has said, this is a complete pain. I notice that they now also appear in the old version's documents list too. Why? 

10) No check boxes. It is not any easier to select several files at once (by holding down the control key and clicking). Why did you not take the opportunity to use Gmail's method of retaining check boxes and using Gmail's new checkbox-cum-dropdown control to select/deselect all files and for other options?
Gmail's method also has the big advantage that you can use the keyboard to move up and down the list (with the "j" and "k" keys) and tick those files you want by using the "x" key.  To my knowledge there is no keyboard equivalent for moving up and down and selecting in Google Docs.

11) Organise Collections. Again you could have used Gmail's excellent method of applying labels to documents by dragging and dropping. But you've chosen a much worse way to do things. It's as if there is no one responsible for encouraging the various application teams to harmonise user interfaces between the apps. If there is someone in that role, then that person is not doing a very good job.

12) Separation Lines. As another user, Scott Juster, has said in the Google Docs Blog, the absence of any separation lines between documents makes the information that much harder to read and absorb.

13) Refresh Link. This has been removed but the document list does not automatically refresh after making an edit to a document. You now have to resort to F5 to get a refreshed view of the document list.

14) Document Icons. They are significantly smaller and therefore less easy to take in at a glance. Why tinker?

Do you actually test any of this with real-world users outside the Google environment? It doesn't look like it. Read the detailed and well-meaning and constructive critical messages in the Google Docs Blog and PLEASE TAKE NOTE.  These are serious users who you should be listening to. I think it would be difficult to mess up things much more than you have done. Surely you can do better than this?!

I would be interested in seeing Mr Vijay Bangaru's (Google Docs Product Manager?) justification for all these changes.

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All Replies (183)
Phillipus
2/2/11
Phillipus
I have to say I hate it. I miss the columns in the old look. How do I revert back to the old version?
Derrick Farnell
2/2/11
Derrick Farnell
Thanks very much for posting these points - you've saved me a lot of time!

The biggest problem, for me, is the inability to 'select all' files at once, and the inability to select multiple files at once without having to remember a keyboard shortcut.
2/2/11
Original Poster
Sisyphus
Derrick - you're welcome. It's extraordinary to me that such a poor "refreshed" user interface can be released when in so many respects it is a backwards step from the older version.  I just hope someone at Google acts on all this. 
Derrick Farnell
2/2/11
Derrick Farnell
I've been giving the new version a chance for 24 hours, but I've now returned to the older version.
ElleCC
2/2/11
ElleCC
This is such a fantastic list of issues! Thanks for taking the time to put this together--it makes me feel less like a cranky complainer that I'm not the only one who takes issue with these things. 

I don't understand at all why they wouldn't model it all after Gmail, which does things so well and with which so many people are already familiar. 
spilzer
2/2/11
spilzer
I second criticisms 7, 9, and 10. Those are the most annoying ones for me.

But, really, every point you raise here is a good one.

Thanks for highlighting these common problems. Hopefully someone from Google will read this and take it to heart.
KY Metro
2/2/11
KY Metro
Definitely a step backwards, Google. I too have reverted to the older version.

One thing I have noticed - Docs never has had many options in the "settings" category. All you can really  do there is set your language and time zone. I think a lot of the people (like me) who don't like the new interface would appreciate some options - turn OFF most of the unwanted features, like the preview pane; and turn ON the removed features from the old version - like details on the center pane and so forth.

Gmail sets the gold standard here - its interface has gotten very clean and intuitive, with MANY customizations possible. Messages open right in the window, with no visible refresh of the page. For short memos and such, it is easier to write in Gmail.  There is much more free storage available there. I would really like to see full integration of the two. At the very least,you could copy as many of the options from Gmail as possible - checkboxes, labels, "inbox", aka current workspace; automated filters, etc. If the two were identical twins, left hand and right hand, people who use both apps all day every day would waste much less time "remembering" how to do something. The older version was MUCH closer to integration. At least don't take it away from us........

If we don't complain, Google will barrel right ahead with this. I sure hope they are listening. 

Squeaky wheels that get no oil are tempted to fall off.
2/2/11
Original Poster
Sisyphus
KY Metro  -  Couldn't agree more with you - Gmail has done things pretty well (almost !) and is the gold standard.  And yes, the older version of Google Docs was closer to integration with Gmail but had a way to go, particularly with assigning "folders" to documents.  The way Gmail has done this (applying "Labels" to messages) is a beautiful piece of JavaScript craft.   This Google Docs refresh is such a disappointment - it's as if they just haven't tested it outside the Googleplex. I also like your idea about making many more options available under Settings.
And, yes, if we don't complain - when it's justified - nothing happens.  I am sure we like intelligent and useful changes as much as anyone - but these changes are, for the most part, pretty dumb.
Ray Jerrican
2/2/11
Ray Jerrican
Sisyphus, you took the words right out of my mouth. Thanks for an excellent point-by-point analysis. I can no longer can see document status at a glance without repeated clicks, and cannot select multiple documents. The grey-on-grey text on the entire page is almost completely illegible to me. Plus all the other points you mentioned.

Gmail, as you all said, has been designed for high usability. The new Google Docs look, on the other hand, has  probably never gone through any significant usability studies.

If the Google News redesign fiasco from some months ago is anything to go by, we will have to see thousands of complaints, and be mentioned in a numerous news headlines and hundreds of blogs, to get Google's attention. Let's get started. Go to your local street corner and get the petitions signed. Contact your local newspaper and ask them to write an editorial. Post on your blog. Fly an airplane with a banner. Shave your head and paint 'Google Docs redesign sucks' on it. We have work to do.

Ray
jsherber
2/2/11
jsherber
Great summary of awful redesign. Thank you Google for making the Docs list much faster, but the redesign is really sub-par, and, most strangely, inconsistent with other Google products.
172 MORE
JB NGM
5/5/11
JB NGM
Google Docs is incredibly useful in some ways; however, its lacking flexibility in settings and keys features (many of which have been cataloged in this forum, and others of which Gmail offers).

Lacking flexibility: 
1) Needs portal to manage / track deleted items. I work with large numbers of files...adding, erasing, etc. I need to be able to double check what I may have deleted - intentionally and unintentionally. E..g a portal / maybe a graph clearly breaking down files that were erases, when, what type of file, etc.  One big trash can doesn't serve well.
2) Need to be able to change view of docs..e.g. by title, by title inversely, dates, etc. without having to change the setting for different folders. Need a different default setting for viewing each folder.
Many more...
Settings:
1) Page numbers in Docs. Why is this only available when printing?
2) Checked boxes still makes sense to me. I have hundreds of files crammed together in the list view...ie the only view.  I can easily inadvertently select the incorrect file
Many more...but does Google listen? I don't have time to engage if Google doesn't listen. 
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