Have you updated to Gmail’s new look yet? The innovative email client has once again changed its interphase to a “more modern” design. New updates include fresh HD themes, a cleaner icon-based toolbar, a customizable lefthand menu, easier access to advanced search, and a revised conversation view.
While there’s a learning curve associated with these new features, I predict that users will adapt to these new changes quickly. For the most part, they are intuitive and really do improve the usability of Gmail.
My biggest qualm thus far is with the lefthand navigation. With Gmail’s update, the toolbar toggles between showing all of my labels and all of my chat contacts. When my mouse isn’t hovering over either category, I see a compressed version of both. There’s no way to see all of my labels without hovering over that section. For me, this update necessitates too many clicks to get to the information I need.
The most telling improvement, however, are the new customizable “display density” options. Display densities change the the amount of padding around conversations in the inbox, messages, and between labels. Essentially, these options control how much white space you’ll see on the interphase. This new customization makes Gmail more adaptable to a variety of different screen sizes.
Why might a user need these options? Why would Gmail need to adapt to larger and, more interestingly, smaller screens? It seems obvious that Gmail has mobile usability on its mind. Right now, Gmail’s tablet and smartphone interphase has not been updated from the previous version, but I predict that this update will soon hit mobile devices, especially because Gmail just released its iPad and iPhone application. The old mobile versions of Gmail look a bit outdated right now and aren’t very user-friendly. I suspect that most mobile users are currently using their phone or tablet’s integrated mail application to read Gmail messages, and might soon switch over to gmail’s native application, but the next frontier for Gmail is surely an updated mobile site.
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