Earlier this week, when checking my email, I noticed that our friends over at Google had made a couple changes to the buttons above the inbox.
For reference, this is what the buttons looked like before the change (and without my custom theme):
The first change, adding the Move To and Labels controls, are welcome changes. The other change, redesigning and removing the spacing between the buttons, not so much. The reason for placing the buttons flush against one another is likely the result of, after having added more buttons, deciding that this increased quantity of buttons warrants the need for grouping them. While that’s all good and well, the decision to actually have the buttons completely flush against one another was a bad decision indeed. Unwittingly, the geniuses at Google have not so much created a group of buttons but really instead created what visually is–particularly for the rapidly scanning and hunting Steve Krug archetypal web user–one big honking button. This means that every time I want to take the very very common action of deleting something, I can’t just target the delete button, I have to scan the Gigantor-button to find the part within it that contains the delete section. And after having used this redesigned version for a few days now, I am still finding myself scanning for the delete portion.
This type of UI flubber, a bad design choice that on one hand really only leads to a fraction of a second’s delay, is what I call a micro-annoyance. Now, let’s say this micro-annoyance appeared on some registration form. That wouldn’t really matter too much since I would only have to deal with it once. But when it appears on something that I use every day, all day, all the time, that changes everything. Suddenly it is significant.
What’s truly annoying, though, is how easy it would be to fix this issue. Just add a couple pixels of spacing between each of the buttons. Something like this:
You basically get the best of both worlds – you keep your button grouping, while also removing the micro annoyance of making me scan for the Delete button every time.