This post is about digital publishing, about its usability. I used Flipboard for some time and it is good. Not excellent because of some mess on lower nesting levels, but it is a base line for other similar apps and services. Let’s look at Google Currents, I will assess them on Google Nexus S smart phone. So we have native Google device and native Google app. What result can we expect? Of course we want excellent, best of the breed! What we have in reality? Read on.
Level 0: Home Screen
We see sexy image and some icons on the home screen. Navigation is horizontal. I.e. to move between the pages we have to flip right, then left or right. Standard think on touch screens. One big surface and moving it with the finger. From aesthetics point of view home screen of Flipboard on iPad is way better. Ok, we are at the Level 0, Home Screen. And it has horizontal navigation. Take a look below:
Level 1: Fast Company and TechCrunch
I like to read Fast Company stuff, so I am clicking its icon. By doing that I descend to the nesting level, let’s name it Level 1. What we see at that level? Fast Company expands its content horizontally. We can navigate it as we did on Level 0, intuitively, everything the same and it is good. Looks at the snapshots below, demonstrating horizontal navigation for Fast Company:
So far everything cool and we love Google Currents as an alternative to Flipboard:) But it is time to launch TechCrunch now. I love TechCrunch too, it is on my Home Screen as well as Fast Company. So, clicking TechCrunch icon! Starting to read, donw with first screen, trying to flip right and here comes an issue:( TechCrunch does not scroll horizontally. Surprise? I would call it a flaw in Interaction Design of the Google Currents. At the same level as Fast Company – Level 1 – TechCrunch does scrol vertically. How could I know it? I used to flip horizontally on Home Screen and on Fast Company. Look below at the vertical navigation of Tech Crunch at Level 1:
There is strong inconsistency with content navigation at the Level 1. It is difficult to pay special attention to some widgets that serve as a hints how to scroll. Much better way is to implement same navigation direction and show no widgets as all. I could finish this post at this point, though we can go further if you like.
Level 2: Fast Company and TechCrunch
Let’s dive deeper into the content by those providers and write what we feel. At the Level 2 Fast Company resembles TechCrunch. It has vertical navigation. Below is a snapshot:
What we have with TechCrunch at the Level 2? Of course something different, we have got horizontal navigation. Look below:
Seems Fast Company uses more levels to structure its content. There is whole Level 3…
Level 3: Fast Company alone
There is content at this level. There are multiple entry points to it. You can get test content, or rich video content. Navigation is horizontal for both. Look below for text content:
Here is video content below:
Google Currents on Google Nexus S has severe usability flaws. There had to be some rules for content providers to stick to. As a user I do not want to care on the structures, I want content instantly, as I had it of Flipboard on iPad. With Currents things are not so obvious, which inspired me to draw a joke. IMHO the quality of Google products degrade. They repeat Microsoft’s way with issues, bugs and … market penetration. It’s sad.