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April 12, 2011

Google's Inconsistent Menus

The trouble with using two menus instead of one is that you never know which menu is the one you need. That's probably the reason why Chrome's team opted for a unified menu.

Here's the menu displayed when you click your name in Gmail:


... and here's the options menu, this time in Google Search:


Notice that "account settings" and "privacy" are added to both menus, depending on the service you use. It's likely that the first menu is used for account-related features and the second menu is used for features related to the service you're currently using, but that's still confusing.

20 comments:

  1. Gmail loads faster than any other service.

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  2. Yes, It's irritating Some times.

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  3. Not really rocket science though.

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  4. I have two Google Apps accounts (both transitioned to regular Google accounts) and the user menu does not have the create/view profile, account settings, or privacy menu options. Only the account management is present. So appears this is cleaned up and organized more obvious for Google Apps users. Not sure why they have made it different between even Google Apps Gmail and standard Gmail.

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  5. it was there, i don't have that drop settings this time ......

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  6. wierd... I have the same options everywhere and the privacy settings and account settings never show up in the options menu.

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  7. Yes, that's doubleplusannoying. :S Ever since the split, I tend to "miss" the right menu. I sincerely hope they re-join both menus into one, the way it used to be. Unless they come up with something better?

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  8. I dont even have the new menu style in gmail (on @gmail.com domain). Is there any any roadmap when it will be enabled for all users?

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  9. @Martin - I had the same problem in just Firefox, but every other browser on my system showed the new menu. I had to delete my Google cookies and it displayed.

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  10. @Peter - Thanks for a advice, but unfortunately I have this "old menu" in Google Chrome even if I remove all google-relative cookies. :(

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  11. @Peter - It is strange, in Firefox I have new menu style in all google services. :( Does anybody know how to enable this on any browser (especialy on Chrome)?

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  12. yeah Google is just awful at making UI's and with constancy in general. It's great that Google has an almost standardized bar that goes over the top but its still ugly. Look how a couple white pixels are seen on the separators above the sign-in name. You might expect this kind of design from a really small company but a billion dollar company that specializes in the internet?

    I'm a graphic designer, in 30 minutes I created a couple better looks for the Google bar. If it were made in html both picture would only contain one gif. that would be 1px wide and 26px high and repeated horizontally, the rest could be done easily in css, no webkit, no tricks. Check em' out, I'm sure you'll agree

    http://jj50.com/demo/google-should-look-like-2.jpg

    http://jj50.com/demo/google-should-look-like-this.jpg

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  13. I would make just one menu, with all the options by clicking on my username and change the "Settings" button to "Sign Out", now I have to make 2 clicks to sign out.

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  14. Google is terrible at consistency and it is really confusing my users.

    I don't think the problem is as bad for regular Google users, but Apps users who stray beyond the core apps are in for a confusing and frustrating experience.

    In some ways it is simple: things work one way in the core apps, but they work differently in the non core apps (e.g. different menus) and often fail without any explanation (e.g. especially on their phones). But my users don't understand/notice this distinction so, to them, the whole thing is a mess of inconsistency and bugs.

    Is Google hard at work on fixing these problems and inconsistencies? I don't really see any signs that they are. When my users got an update to the integrated contact page (the one that is part of mail) that made it quite different then the separate contact page they weren't confused, they were just sad - it seemed that Google wasn't even trying to make things consistent.

    I thought it was widely understood that users want services that are consistent and that work as expected. Am I wrong? Why does Google not seem to care about this anymore?

    I'm a big Google fan, but I feel that Google is getting harder for me to sell. I was hoping that it was just about them being spread too thin last year, but now I'm starting to wonder.

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  15. Google can never get the UI right, thats where Bing excels (personally I prefer the simplicity of google search though). It's really not that hard to make every google service have a constant menu bar at the top, let alone menus.

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  16. Its a pity also that there is no consistency across countries, if you're on google.com you get the new menu bar whereas on google.co.uk its the old one (which in itself has no layout consistency!

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  17. Yes I can totally confirm it's confusing.
    The Account Settings being put on both menus is a great idea ;)

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  18. whoever design that piece of sh*t should not be allowed to touch a computer again. This is the worst piece of UI I have ever seen.

    It's not just inconsistent, it's also ugly and has poor usability.

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  19. I am not seeing this on my account, they seem to either redesign this or they accidentally rolled out the wrong design and then change it.

    What I have notice through it that the account settings and privacy settings under the name or email drop down menu on the profile pages leads to blank pages. Which makes me think there is a redesign coming.

    It also seem the clog menu changes depending on which service you use. This make me think the account and privacy settings will be made the same for all services in the near future.

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  20. How about Google's Webmaster Tools for an example of poor UI design. It's a confusing mess.

    For a company that is supposed to be king of the Internets you think they might have learned how to put togther a consitent and logical interface. Instead it looks like it's been thrown together by some kid working in his bedroom.

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