Official Google Reader Blog - News, Tips and Tricks from the Reader team

Square is the new round.

12/04/2008 11:39:00 AM
Posted by Jenna Bilotta, User Experience Designer

On the Reader team, we know that the old adage "change is good" isn't always true. Sometimes, change is just change. In this case, we hope that these decisions both improve your Reader experience today, and pave the way for additional improvements down the line. So...what's changing, you ask?

Updated look and feel

Google is all about speed, both under the hood as well as in the user experience. So, in order to make Reader act and feel more speedy and responsive, we've removed some visual clutter, simplified some features and given everything a bit more breathing room. Out with the old rounded corners, drop shadows and heavily saturated colors -- in with a softer palette, faster components and a fresh new look.



Collapsible navigation

Each section of the navigation pane now has its own options menu and minimize/maximize controls. You can collapse each major section of navigation down to one line and focus on only the things you choose to use.

Expanded sections Collapsed sections

Friends get promoted

Shared items have grown up and gotten their own section in the navigation pane. You can collapse this entire section and use the title to see everything your friends have shared, or leave it open to track friends with shared items. (Don't forget that you can add new friends in "Sharing settings".)

Hide unread counts

We've heard you loud and clear. For some of you (and some of us on the Reader team), unread counts are a source of anxiety and can feel more like a to-do list than the random awesomeness of the Internet. So to help you sleep better at night, we've added the ability to turn off unread counts for each section of navigation independently. Subscriptions with unread items will still appear as bold, and you can see the number of unread items if you hold your mouse over the subscription name. To really set yourself free, try turning them off for all sections. (Ahhhhhh, now doesn't that feel better?)

More feed bundles!

Feed bundles are small sets of feeds related to a topic that you can subscribe to all at once. Historically, these were done "by hand" by the Reader team, but this just wasn't working out. So we've written a program to make "bundles" for us – no more manual editing of bundles, and a much richer and interesting set of subscriptions for you to choose from. We've added a bunch of new topic-based bundles for easier feed discovery. Just find the "Browse for stuff" link in the main navigation pane and look for the "Browse all bundles" link on the bundles tab. Now, you can learn more than you ever wanted to about NASCAR, yoga or knitting.


Looking for something that's moved?

  • The "Refresh" button from the subscription list is now in the Subscriptions options menu or triggered by simply clicking on the word "Subscriptions"
  • The "Show all - updated" controls are now in the Subscriptions options menu.
  • The "Add subscription" button has moved to the top of the navigation pane.

As always, we love to get feedback in our discussion group, and we look for it in a number of other sources -- please keep it coming!