Contrarian View on Google’s design

in What Would Google Do, Derek Powazek makes some interesting claims:

  • Google succeeded despite the sparseness of their interface, not because of it.
  • It worked because Google’s service was easy to understand, and sparseness was different, and cool
  • Being sparse now is, in general, no longer chic because everyone does it
  • If your service is harder to understand than search, you are not well served by sparseness

I disagree with the first point – I think that people were overwhelmed with the barrage of information on Yahoo and MSN, and Google’s clean, simple interface was simply less intimidating. It may have been sparse, but at least you didn’t have to try to comprehend 7500 screen objects.

However, I generally agree with the other points – sparseness is no longer cool, because it’s played out. And, Derek is right – if your service is hard to understand, sparseness is not your friend.


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