Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2 reasons I dislike Google's new look

Google has been rolling out a new look lately. They are going with a very simple gray and red scheme (and orange in blogger?) for most of their products. I like the idea of it. I also think it is very attractive. But I also have 2 problems with it. And they both have to do with the usability of the new design.

1) They removed all but two visual cues. They've oversimplified it. When our eyes scan pages they pick up visual cues as to what is important and where to find things. It is very quick and very subconcious. Google used to have a lot of visual cues around the page with their old, colorful look. Now, they have red buttons, blue search buttons and everything else is gray. The red indicates something important. Everything else, they are saying, is not important. The problem is that is WAY over simplified. The fact is that this binary visual cue system (that is, red or gray) really slows me down. It is hard to find things quickly or to even orient myself on a page. I even have to think more when I try to figure out what Google service I am using. Their new look doesn't help my brain instantly digest a page. It slows me down because it is ultimately camouflaging the entire page of non-red text links and text interactions in a sea of gray.

2) The new look also makes lots of space for the top of the page. The Google search bar is prominent and then the actions. Then the rest of the page, the area I spend most of my time working and interacting with important data (whether it is a calendar, email list or voicemail transcripts), is now smaller. Not a lot smaller but enough that it really is annoying. This area should be bigger if they are going to change things, not smaller. This is the most important part of the page. The search bar does not need 1/4 of the site. Search is a single input and I spend only a fraction of my time there.

Friday, September 16, 2011

WordPress - Template for Parent Slug

WordPress allows you to create special template files for each category. You can name these theme template files cateogry-ID.php or category-SLUG.php, which is nice. However, if you are viewing a category and it does not have its own template, WordPress doesn't look for a parent template file. It just skips that. In lui of creating a template file for every child category (which would be a real pain), I found a nice script that I've edited and improved to provide expanded support (it didn't support slugs in the template name).

 Place this in your functions.php file:
// Use a parent category slug if it exists
function child_force_category_template($template) {
	$cat = get_query_var('cat');
	$category = get_category($cat);

	if ( file_exists(TEMPLATEPATH . '/category-' . $category->cat_ID . '.php') ) {
		$cat_template = TEMPLATEPATH . '/category-' . $category ->cat_ID . '.php';
	} elseif ( file_exists(TEMPLATEPATH . '/category-' . $category->slug . '.php') ) {
		$cat_template = TEMPLATEPATH . '/category-' . $category ->slug . '.php';
	} elseif ( file_exists(TEMPLATEPATH . '/category-' . $category->category_parent . '.php') ) {
		$cat_template = TEMPLATEPATH . '/category-' . $category->category_parent . '.php';
	} else {
		// Get Parent Slug
		$cat_parent = get_category($category->category_parent);
		if ( file_exists(TEMPLATEPATH . '/category-' . $cat_parent->slug . '.php') ) {
			$cat_template = TEMPLATEPATH . '/category-' . $cat_parent->slug . '.php';
		} else {
			$cat_template = $template;
	return $cat_template;
add_action('category_template', 'child_force_category_template');