Gmail Gets a Facelift

Gmail and Google Calendar have recently been enhanced which you may have missed if you were busy getting familiar with the bigger news from that camp about Google+. In this redesign Google says it is working on integrating Gmail more with Google+. Until we all decide to reverse the email spiral, at least we have a nicer looking Gmail.

Preview the new Gmail Themes

Eventually the new design will become standard, but to get the new interface now simply sign into Gmail, go to Mail Settings, then Themes and you’ll see two new themes, “Preview” and “Preview (dense).” As you can see below, Gmail has a new cleaner, updated design with more whitespace, better fonts, and overall design similar to the recent Google Calendar redesign.

Why it Changed

Google has generally not been considered a company that considers design principles in their products. While Google has often been applauded for the simplicity in the main search page and superior performance, its other products such as Gmail have not been considered beautiful designs. Detractors have even gone so far as to suggest that Google has succeeded despite its bad design. Compare the new design to Google’s original homepage:

However, it seems that Google has finally recognized the value of a pleasant user experience. Google explains that the new design is focused on three key design principles:

  • Focus: With the design changes in the coming weeks and months, we’re bringing forward the stuff that matters to you and getting all the other clutter out of your way.
  • Elasticity: The new design will soon allow you to seamlessly transition from your desktop computer to your mobile phone to your tablet, while keeping a consistent visual experience. We aim to bring you this flexibility without sacrificing style or usefulness.
  • Effortlessness: Our design philosophy is to combine power with simplicity. We want to keep our look simple and clean. But behind the seemingly simple design, the changes use new technologies to make sure you have all the power of the web behind you.

What Google Did Right

Throughout the design community, most reactions to the new Gmail interface suggest that it is long overdue but have been generally positive and welcome. The new design features better, more obvious navigation with a large red Compose button instead of the previous gray one, and sharper edges throughout. While the current color scheme is predominantly red and gray Google says there are more colors on the way because, as usual, it plans to introduce all the new evolving changes in phases over the next weeks and months.


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