Sunday, February 21, 2021

Hipster interface design


Wayfarer-style black rimmed eyeglasses
Websites should be clean and simple. Also, they should be transparent and functional. 

These two criteria do not always dance well together. 

Furthermore, the optimal mix of simplicity and functionality might be different if you are viewing and interacting on your phone versus a computer with a large monitor.

In my view as a desktop user, The New Blogger often strikes the wrong balance. (But in many respects, the legacy UI did too: I am a critic from way back).

Just in the "labels" space alone, we are getting controls that pop in and out of existence and are unlabeled except on hover.

We've lost the useful ability to see at a glance all the labels associated with a post, and the even-more-useful ability to filter posts by label by clicking on the list of labels we no longer have.

All of this is, on some level, So Cool!—and also really hard to, you know, use.

(Ah, using. User, usefulness, use. Such odd, old-fashioned words. Maybe Google does not need them any more.)

The promise of responsive website design is that a site will adapt itself to the user. Options and controls hidden behind menus on phones will grow and become visible on desktop.

Responsive design (sometimes)

The New Blogger (where we are the user) achieves this, sometimes. In the editor, for instance, the new toolbar collapses into a menu like an accordion depending on the width of the screen.

This is not only kind of cool—it also works well.

(You can see this on desktop by varying the width of your browser window).

But in some other respects, the design caters to mobile bloggers at the expense of the rest of us. We have room on our screens for more tools, a flatter, simpler, and more functional hierarchy. 

But the design lets us down.

Learn what's new

Google's goal of making a single interface that can be used on desktop, tablets, and phones is requiring us to re-learn the locations of many controls.

This is irksome for us, but I think won't be troublesome after we learn the ropes again. One set of arbitrary controls is, in the end, as good as another.

Subtract from the New Blogger experience the disorientation of learning unfamiliar controls. The new interface is still inferior—harder to use—in other ways. 

Work around what's lost

It takes more clicks to add links, and to do many other things. Those clicks add up.

I pity anyone who is new in town, trying to figure out how Blogger works by looking at the inscrutable controls.

Infinite Scroll is—a problem.

While some troublesome issues, such as problems with the placement of images, persist, I am hopeful that these will be addressed in the coming year.

(Hey Google: Those are bugs, right?)

But other features of the user interface, which put coolness over function, are not likely to change.

Let's hope users, and usability, come back in style someday.


  1. WordPress is looking more inviting 😁 just like faceblah there are other alternatives which I'm sure most of us have been investigating.
    Sad that Blogger has lead us down this path. One size does not fit all

    1. I have a foot in the WP world and all is not great there either. Many of the same complaints!

      That said, I think the WP UI is still easier to use.

  2. Yes. Usability. Google seems to have forgotten what that is. I keep drifting more to the medium platform because of it. Ironically, it was created by the same person that created the original Blogger. It is a much friendlier platform.