Hey Google, I want my screen back.

I love Google. I have used Gmail since 2004 and have never looked back. Google Calendar keeps me on schedule. I read via Google Reader daily. I use Google Docs at least weekly. I have also spent more time than I should on Google+. Never mind the fact that Google is my go to search engine (and I click on ads just to reward them for being awesome). So, yes, I am fanboy. As one of Google's biggest and most loyal fans, I was jazzed to learn that they were redesigning and creating a cleaner, more modern, and more minimalistic UI for their applications.

I, for the most part, really like the new designs with ONE MAJOR EXCEPTION: Google's new designs WASTE vertical space. It is as if they designed their applications for a monitor/screen that is set on it's side (720 wide X 1280 high instead of 1280 wide X 720 high).

Consider these pixel stats (based on my 1280X720 pixel screen):

Google Docs - 374 vertical pixels are spent on actual content creation window (only 52%). 48% is spent on tool bars, title bars, menu bars, google bars, and other operating system elements.

Google Reader - 394 vertical pixels are invested in the core reading pane (55%). That means that 45% of the vertical space is spent things other than what you are trying to read.

Gmail Compose Window - 418 vertical pixels are dedicated to the task at hand (58% of vertical space). That means the balance is spent on things other than composing a message.

"Okay Andy, we get it. Stop bitching. What should we do to fix this?"

First off, set a goal. I think that at least 66% of the vertical space should be invested in the core task at hand. This requires scrubbing the layout and design and taking back every pixel we can to reinvest those pixels in the core task.

Secondly, we need to make better use of the sidebars. Maybe we could move some of the tools to the sidebars to free up some vertical space (since the typical screen resolution affords 77% more width than height).

Google Reader Example:

Google Doc Example:

Lastly, the Google black bar needs to become less intrusive. Right now, on my 720px high screen, it takes up 30px or 4.2% of the vertical space. I don't know...shave it down to 25px. Or free it from "floating" as I scroll so that I can at least scroll down a bit to take that space back if I need it for the core task at hand. I know that this does not jive with Google's goal of keeping all their tools right in front of us all the time...but trust me Google, I know where to find you. I will be back. I just need to focus on the task at hand for a moment.

In summary -- Google, I want my screen back.

Andy Hairgrove

29 Hearts
29 Hearts
29 Hearts