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Ex-Google designer offers to fix Reader

Following user outrage at its redesign, former lead designer for Google Reader, Kevin Fox, has offered to come back to the company to help Google fix up the Reader product.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor on

Following user outrage at its redesign, former lead designer for Google Reader, Kevin Fox, has offered to come back to the company to help Google fix up the Reader product.

The changes to Google Reader, unveiled earlier this week, have been met with anger by many users who dislike the white space, and protest the removal of social functionality in favour of sharing through Google's social network Google+.

Fox, who worked for the internet giant between 2003 and 2008, according to his Google+ profile, wrote in his blog yesterday that he believed that in trying to make Google Reader visually consistent with other Google products, the company had failed to ensure that Reader maintained its unique user experience.

"Now that the Google Reader redesign has gone live, it seems clear that the stripping of social functionality is only one of many significant problems that have come from repainting the product with the broad brush of Google's new visual style guide. Affordances have gone awry, the relative implied importance of use cases (such as subscribing) have fallen out of balance, and visual grouping of related items has been whitewashed away, to name a few problems," he said.

"I believe this has happened because while Google Reader was held to a mandate of refreshing Google products under a common style guide, from what I've been told, it had no full-time user experience resource to apply that guide in a way that made sense for the nuances of that particular product."

Fox said that he believes Reader still covers a niche that has not been filled by Twitter, Facebook or Google+, and has offered to come back to Google to fix it as he believes it should "not fall by the wayside, a victim to fashion".

"And so I put my resources where my mouth is. As the former lead designer for Google Reader, I offer my services to Google, rejoining for a three-month contract in order to restore and enhance the utility of Google Reader, while keeping it in line with Google's new visual standards requirements. I will put my current projects on hold to ensure that Google Reader keeps its place as the premier news reader, and raises the bar of what a social newsreader can be."

In what hasn't been the best of weeks for the company, Google's Gmail app for iOS was pulled just a few short hours after it was unveiled in the Apple app store due to a bug that broke notifications and caused users to see an error message when first opening the app.

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