Saturday, December 26, 2015

Goodreads and Design FAIL

A little over a week ago, Goodreads rolled out some new design elements on their website - some “much-needed visual design cleanup” according to GR staffer Emily (see: this forum thread). How needed this change was is a point of contention with Goodreads users, who immediately began complaining of eyestrain, headaches, and nausea.

Since then, I’m sure there has been behind-the-scenes scrambling to make the site more user-friendly, but it’s been too-little, too-late. And I, for one, am completely fed up with the whole thing. GR seems completely unwilling to change back to the old site design -- or even the old fonts. Instead, they have been tweaking the current fonts while ignoring the background’s blinding whiteness.

Now, I will admit, the site looks better...on Chrome. Because, one thing that has become obvious is that the developers never looked at the site they were coding in that browser. Of course, the site now looks ugly as all get-out on IE/Edge. Because that’s what happens when you use a new font that hasn’t been fully tested for all platforms, browsers, and languages! (Yes, the font GR choose -- Merriweather -- was not 100% compatible with non-Western languages. Hooray.

Here is what the site looks like in Chrome today. The font is faint and thin, making it hard to read for long periods of time. I start feeling a headache after about 15 minutes. Bear in mind, this is a vast improvement from a week ago, when the font was even lighter and thinner. (Click to enlarge.)

Here’s the site in Firefox. Better. Of the three browsers, the best of the bunch. Still eye-glaringly bright, though, with the background and the lack of gradients/contrast. (Again, click to enlarge.)

Now, here's Goodreads in Microsoft Edge -- basically, the Windows 10 version of Internet Explorer. The font is horrible. It's bolded to the point of looking "double-printed", and that boldness is making the stark white of the background even worse, if that can be possible.

Now, some questions for Goodreads:

  1. Who the hell decided this was a change that needed to be made? And then decided the best way for Goodreads to look was bland, flat, stark, and visually unappealing?
  2. Who okayed the new design without checking how it looked on different browsers, platforms, and set-ups? That's just basic common sense when it comes to web development.
  3. Why did it take so long for GR customer service to even acknowledge there were a large number of users vocally complaining (myself included) of physical discomfort and pain when looking at the site, let alone working to do something about it?
  4. Why the hell is GR wedded to this new godawful Merriweather font? Bring back Georgia!

In the meantime, I've spent more time time these past few days than I cared to cleaning up my shelves so I could get a nice export to import into Leafmarks. It's smaller than Goodreads. The interface will take a little bit of getting used to. There aren't enough active librarians so the database is a mess (though getting librarian status appears relatively easy; I got it when I sent off an email asking for it). BUT. It doesn't hurt my eyes. I can stay there for hours without having to install a browser plug-in to overwrite the site's CSS regarding font and background color. Come find me there.

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