Google Drive search field redesign

For work, I live and breathe Google Drive. Same goes for my consulting work and teaching stuff.

Today, in my fervor to get some work done, I logged on to Google Drive. Lo and behold…things are a bit more tidied up than usual!

  1. There’s a taller search field with a background color of gray, rather than an outline color with a search field of white
  2. There’s a caret in the search field
  3. Lots of callouts of ‘Drive’ as a distinctive property but maybe I’m finally noticing it more (good job…?)
  4. New CTA button color that matches the company logo. Might just be happenstance, or might be that our awesome IT manager has color sense

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Clicking on the caret in the search bar now reveals…

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I think I may have died and gone to advanced search options heaven.

I haven’t had a chance to dig in to it and use it too much but I look forward to using this, especially in cases where I am sharing and collaborating on files with larger teams. Woo!

Dark UX Pattern: Lucidchart Pro Paid Upgrade

I’ve had to switch over my UX workflow software at work from Omigraffle to Lucidchart.

It’s a pretty cool software package — the pro level gives you some really basic wireframe capabilities. Like, really basic. You can’t even scale or resize the UI stencils like Omnigraffle or Sketch. However, it’s nice because even non-designers can go in and give a rough idea of what a UI could look like, in addition to what they think a user flow could be.

I was looking at it for some personal projects and signed up for the free trial. Seemed simple enough. They automatically upgraded me to the pro trial (of course they did!) for 7 days.

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I went in to go ahead to sign up for the annual subscription since I saw plenty of value. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t mind paying for apps and subscriptions to get rid of ads. I also really dislike paying for software subscriptions until I try it out for a long time, and over the last week I must’ve developed Stockholm Syndrome.

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From there I created a few assets, and mulled it over for the day. I decided to go ahead and upgrade at the end of the day. I supposed the site stripe worked on me and I finally went back to the site to click the link.

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I saw this page and was like, whattttt? I saw the $4.95 a month plan and wanted to pay that one up front for the year. However, when I went to click back on ‘Subscription Level’ on the side navigation, it wouldn’t take me back to the different tiers. It just kept me on this page. It kind of made sense — I mean, this was the current subscription level, but I wanted to see all the subscription levels.

I snuck around and tried to reset my navigation. I clicked up on user settings and got my boring user settings page. Seemed pretty normal.

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I then clicked on subscription level again. Aaaaand look at what I found:

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Quite sneaky, Lucidchart!

I dug in a little deeper to find that for a whopping $60 a year, I’d get access to nearly nothing…mostly anything I already get access to in Google Docs. Lame. For $110 a year, annually renewing, I get a cloud-based version of what I currently get with Omnigraffle. If I add in a one-time fee of $30 or so I can also get access to those docs on my iPad. And seeing as though I’ll be eating the cost of it as an independent contractor or teacher for the next 20+ years, that’s a whole lotta dollars compared to my one-time license of….

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Ugh. Why can’t I just buy a one-time license anymore? Even Sketch gives you a $99 one time licensing fee and I can create high fidelity UI visuals there. And why do I need a browser extension to create docs in offline mode? >:| I’m such a grumpy grandma.

Inconsistent dock contextual menus

I wonder why one contextual menu is different than the other.

Is it because one is of the current state of the application, while the other is of the minimized UI of the application? Isn’t only one state technically active at one time?


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Contextual menu from Amazon Music’s docked application


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Contextual menu from Amazon Music’s minimized application

Hey, I’m not on a tablet

On my best of days (and perhaps my worst of days), this is what my desktop will look like:


I’m rockin’ laptops, Leslie Knope-style. In Parks and Recreation, she decides to run for public office while still working, so she takes all of her campaign business outside of City Hall and runs inside when she has to tend to city business. It ends up being pretty ridiculous but that’s what I find myself doing when I have to shuttle in between work-work, teaching-work, grad school work, running my business, and personal stuff, which happens multiple times a day, every day of the week! (Such is life…)

Anywho, my personal computer is a petite 11″ MacBook Air. I love the thing because it really eases the strain on my neck, shoulders, and back when I need to pack twice the laptop to schlep my gear across cities. However, I sometimes get annoyed when I’m browsing sites and it somehow thinks I’m a giant tablet.

Hey. I’m not on a tablet:

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I have very strong opinions about hamburger menus on a desktop site, but I’ll leave that to another post. Maybe this was an intentional design element, I tell myself.

I’m looking for the login link, so I go ahead and fire off the menu. Now the entire page moves down.

Okay. Really though. I’m not on a tablet:

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Ugh. Wait. Are you serious? I’m not on a tablet.

Well, at least I eventually found the login area. Here goes:

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Hey. Seriously — I’m not on a tablet!


Sliders on sliders

I was an early adopter of Amazon Music, mostly because I was an Amazon employee when it launched. Also, I’ll try out any extra service that gives me extra Prime benefits at least once!

As I go about my merry work days, some design work takes up more screen real estate than others. That means that I get to appreciate the minified view of Amazon Music —

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However, today’s work required me to shuffle between videos of user testing, so every once in awhile when I had to scrub timelines for actual voice dictations, I had to turn the volume down. I then came across this slider-on-slider mess:

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Seems like a bit of lazy UI to me.

  1. Why show two sliders layered, quite literally, on top of one another?
  2. Could there be room for error? What if I mean to adjust one slider and accidentally adjust the other?
  3. Can I accidentally dismiss it?
  4. If I accidentally triggered the volume slider, I wouldn’t know that I’m in the volume adjustment mode. Nothing indicates that the volume adjustment mode is active.
  5. Why is the volume icon significantly smaller than the other icons? It seems miniscule. I almost have to squint to make out that it’s a volume icon.

I appreciate the compactness and how they’ve somehow managed to have all of the core functionality of a music player in such limited real estate. However, I would caution against sacrificing UI clarity and usability for the sole purpose of making it work in such a small form factor.

Software update confirmation alerts

Software confirmation update alerts are mostly helpful when they are shown immediately after I’ve gone through an update process.

However, to show the alert on every subsequent load, just because I haven’t explicitly dismissed it, is completely overkill.

Take, for example — Amazon Music:

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I updated my software about three weeks ago when I stopped my Spotify premium subscription. (I’ve been questioning my life choices ever since.) I’m really just too lazy to drag my mouse over to the ‘x’ button, and I’m really curious to see how long it takes for them to hide that alert stripe. So far, two weeks and counting.

I’ve been trying to find a use case for this…any takers?

Fulfilling the advertising promise

So, after working at Amazon I became a sucker for same-day delivery, on-demand delivery, and the gimme-gimme culture!

When I went to the Amazon homepage this morning to look up bowtie collars for my cats (yes, I actually did that…), I saw an ad for one of my friend’s teams, Prime Now.

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It’s the one-hour delivery service for products sold by Amazon. I got excited because it was an ad that said that Prime Now was available in my area. MY AREA! Denver!!!!! I was suspicious because Amazon doesn’t have a fulfillment center out here but out of curiosity I clicked the ad anyways.

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Dear Amazon: How do you deliver new year’s resolutions? Did you see that I have 11 of them? Did you see that I created a spreadsheet to track them over 12 months? I don’t understand how you are going to deliver them for free in 2 hours. You don’t make any sense. GO HOME AMAZON.

I clicked on the ad and was directed to the landing page, and on first glance didn’t see confirmation that Prime Now was available in Denver, nor did I see a way to search for my location. (Boooooo.)

Then, I was hit with a flurry of questions:

  1. What’s up with all of these download badges? Don’t they know that I clicked a desktop ad? They’re smarter than that (I think).
  2. Why wasn’t I served with a design that emphasized a location-based search if I could not at least be told immediately that Prime Now was indeed not available in my area?
  3. Why couldn’t they just automatically tell me on this page that it wasn’t available in my area? They know where I am located (I think).
  4. If it was not available in my area, why couldn’t I opt in to a notification about when it would become available?
  5. Why make me sad and show me all of the wonderful things I can’t get at the bottom of the page? It’s not like I’m going to move to these other cities just to get Prime Now.

Anywhoodle, after scrolling down a bit I found the scrollbar and typed in my location.

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And then…

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Such sadness. Why would you serve an ad only to fall short of the promise?

Moral of the story: Don’t make your customers sad. They might cry.

Useless calendar sorting and filtering

When I see a way to sort and filter data using a calendar date picker, I expect to be able to pick a date range.

On first glance, this was interesting and kind of kitschy  and cute:

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It then became straight-up infuriating when I realized that there was no way for me to put in a date range. That’s right. I could not actually use the calendar option to sort or filter out a list of data results by date range.

UGH. Why does this option even exist if the industry-expected action does not work? Why did they bother to put in the extra work for things like ‘Thanksgiving to Christmas’ or ‘4 score and 7 years ago’ when they could’ve instead just built a way for me to put my own start and end date?