Yes, it has come to this. The Great Google Reader tragedy of 2011 has resulted in a welfare state, with individual designers trying to ensure massive corporations don’t screw things up beyond repair.
Kevin Fox, Google’s former senior user experience design lead–who worked on Gmail 1.0, Google Calendar 1.0, and Google Reader 2.0–is offering to come back to the fold temporarily to help them out in these troubled times.
If you’re trying to keep track, Mr. Fox is a different individual than the Google product manager Brian Shih who tried the Socratic method to reason with Google:”When you log into Reader, what the hell do you think your primary objective is? Did you answer ‘stare at a giant header bar with no real estate saved for actual reading’?”
On his blog fox@fury, Mr. Fox paints a picture of a RSS landscape in chaos:
“Now that the Google Reader redesign has gone live, it seems clear that the stripping of social functionality is only one of many significant problems that have come from repainting the product with the broad brush of Google’s new visual style guide. Affordances have gone awry, the relative implied importance of use cases (such as subscribing) have fallen out of balance, and visual grouping of related items has been whitewashed away, to name a few problems.”
Before offering some desperately needed design aid (emphasis his):
And so I put my resources where my mouth is. As the former lead designer for Google Reader, I offer my services to Google, rejoining for a three month contract in order to restore and enhance the utility of Google Reader, while keeping it in line with Google’s new visual standards requirements. I will put my current projects on hold to ensure that Google Reader keeps its place as the premier news reader, and raises the bar of what a social newsreader can be.
Just make sure not to sell yourself short for those three months, dude. Since you left, they gave up on aiming for the 80th percentile for employee pay and went right to loading them up with cash.