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The ills of too many different authors

June 7th, 2008

I read an article by Saul Hansell in the NYT Technology section today.  Hansell talks a bit about Google’s new Gmail Labs aka a random place for engineers to test out new futures.  In principle, I love the idea of engineers getting direct access to customers.  Google has been great about putting beta (well really alpha) products out on the Net for their customers to use right away.  But I was struck by a comment that Hansell made in his post:

And I think that Google’s ever-expanding array of services already suffers from the ills of too many different authors. While most of its products have relatively spare interfaces, the products differ as to how they work and, taken together, are harder to use than they should be.

I think Hansell’s observation is spot on.  Google’s offerings are beginning to take on a look that each has been thrown together by a different team.  Contrast that with Apple’s strong hand in creating very similar user interfaces between all of their products, their OS and to some degree their ISVs.  I still use Vista, but can appreciate that each program I use has a different UI.  Heck Outlook 2007 doesn’t look like the rest of the Office suite with the tool banner.

Ars Technica has a long (very long) article about how one of their authors moved from Windows to Mac OS X.  One of the authors complaints was around this same issue.

Links:  New York Times – The Hidden Danger of Gmail Labs, Ars Technica – a Windows user’s converstion to Mac OS X

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