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Google applications are for dorks and geeks

According to Jeff Bonforte from Yahoo, poor usability is the main reason behind the limited adoption of Google's online services such as Gmail and Google Talk.

Google is receiving a lot of attention from "dorks and geeks." But because Google is ruled by engineers and pay little attention to usability, they haven't been successful in turning ordinary people into users of their online applications.

Yahoo has found that removing features from their online applications have made them more attractive to mainstream users.


  • Yahoo rubbishes Google usability Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 02, 2007 - via Usability In The News

See also: Web applications (6) 



Actually, not long ago, Google wanted to hire me. They dragged me through a lengthy recruitment procedure where I made it to the final step: an exercise with the purpose of redesigning one of their online applications. I had two hours.

I choose Google bookmarks. I didn't do anything revolutionary to it. I just removed all the stuff that hasn't anything to do with bookmarks (such as the prominent Search History), all the features that I couldn't imagine that anyone would use (such as the alphabetical sorting) and other peculiar features.

I flunked. Suddenly, they didn't have any vacant positions for people with my qualifications. The Google recruiter couldn't tell me why. But apparently, they didn't like my proposal.

(They may have had other reasons, but that would ruin the story, wouldn't it?)

Henrik Olsen | March 02, 2007


Great story Henrik!

A good friend of mine works at Google and he is one of those geeks ;) He always sends me the latest Google gadgets, and he uses them himself a lot.

Totally agree with you and in this case Yahoo.

Let's hope Google will get HIS act together.

Arjan Haring | March 09, 2007


Same thing happened to me in Oct 2005, flew through the first few telephone interviews and portfolio review but when I went to simplify the then google earth controls they went all cold.

They've since simplified the google earth controls - go figure.

I cant help but notice a level of frustration in your post, I felt the very same thing after my 4 month interrogation. A year later I'm actually rather thankful it fell through. I feel googlers live at google and a well round Ixd'er should have a nice work-life balance as well as socialise with non-geeks. That is, geeks in a geek only environment will make geek centric software.

Pauric | March 14, 2007


Rob Haitani, the interaction designer at Palm during its formative years developed 'Zen Philosophies' to get the point across. 'How do you put a Mountain in a Teacup?'. The answer is: Why would you want to put a mountain in a teacup?

At Palm they developed a less is more approach to developing the Palm experience which worked well for them. Microsoft on the other hand attempted to kill Palm by offering an abundance of features at the cost of the user exprience.

I just asked my girlfriend who doesn't know that much about computers but has both a gmail and a yahoo account which she prefers? She prefers Yahoo!.

Steven Blyth | March 18, 2007



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