“Where did my Google Drive Go?” – Trouble with Google UX

Sometime last year Google changed the way folks access the “apps” within Gmail and Google Apps for Business accounts.  My summary of the change; everything now takes two clicks instead of one.  The official response shows the feature, and the product forums tell us “…simpler design lets you focus on your in product experience but switch to other Google products when you need to.”

Here is the new design decision that has resulted in folks actually asking me what happened to Google Drive.

Screenshot 2014-01-19 10.09.31

If you dive into the feedback from users and customers its almost unanimous too; why would you change it to two clicks instead of one?  I have heard this from my team internally, and many other friends as well.  Folks have come to me asking “why did we remove the links?” as if it were a corporate decision.

Others gave up on using Drive because they could no longer find the link.  If a design decision yields lower usage of a product, I believe you should change it back.  Of course I do not have any data to backup my claim that usage is lower, but I know Google collects and analyzes such data.

Gmail is also making other changes to the previous default way things are handled.  Fred recently highlighted the changes with regard to attachments within gmail noting that the default to “open in drive” is now gone.  I also don’t love this change, but you can still preview the contents of the email by clicking the title.  This “lightbox” approach is not great for me as I am distracted by the email happenings going on behind the document.  Perhaps this is just a temporary moment in time between the old way and the new, but almost 6 mos. in I still want the old way back.

I use a lot of Google products.  I use Gmail personally, and Google Apps professionally, and pay for extra storage.  I only caveat with this information as I believe in the platform.  I want things to work better.  I am heavily invested in the network effects of Google.  As I have said before, once a behavior stream is happening its hard to change.

However all these negative changes make it a little easier to look at other tools and solutions instead of Google, whereas before I would not even entertain giving them a chance.



  • John Fazzolari

    Glad that you wrote this and are helping to spread the word. I’ve also been in multiple situations where folks have asked what happened to Drive. Don’t see how this can be a positive thing- especially since its hard for new users to try out Drive when they can’t find the link to it. How do you feel about the new Gmail compose? Personally, I’ve gotten used to it but only because I forced myself to learn to live with it. I think it’s another unfortunate example of Google ignoring users who truly want to use their products and as you said, “want things to work better”. Hopefully Google will begin paying more attention to users like you- especially when you’re paying for extra storage.

  • I have learned to love it. Being able to navigate back to other emails while having a draft open is great. The biggest help in gmail for me are keyboard shortcuts “Shift + ?” to see the menu. I navigate my inbox that way, send emails, and just work faster.

    The other UX problems are huge, and I hope they are addressed. Google has done a great job getting the G+ integration done, and now they need to assess the UX debt they took on and get things fixed. The good news is they have 100M+ users to test on and get it right.

    Google – I hope you are watching!

  • John Fazzolari

    Wow Eric, “Shift + ?” is an excellent tool I didn’t know about. This is going to be very helpful, thanks for sharing that.

    I do like being able to navigate back to other emails while having a draft open. However, if I have multiple drafts open on screen along with gchat things get a little crazy and its sometimes hard to keep track of things.

    Google better be watching!

  • I use Adium and turn off chat in mail. It’s never been my workflow but I also have been on a diff IM client for years before gmail.

  • John Fazzolari

    True. To improve workflow I’m going to explore turning off chat and communicating when necessary via an external IM client.