Friday, July 16, 2010

Google News changes reflect your feedback

Just two weeks after launching a new version of its Google News site, the web giant has changed the design in response to complaints from users. While the recent redesign is still the default — with a single main column containing “top news,” along with a customized stream of content called “news for you” — users now have the ability to change back to something more like the previous grid-style layout, which includes sections for each main news topic spread over two columns.

The main focus of the Google News redesign was the introduction of the customized “news for you” section, which expanded on the customization features that the site had before and brought them to the forefront. Many other news sites and services have been making similar changes, including Digg, which is working on its own major redesign aimed at making the service more social and allowing users to customize their sources of news. And the Washington Post earlier this week acquired a startup called iCurrent, which allows users to create a kind of personalized newspaper based on their favorite topics.

It’s worth noting, however, that some users didn’t like the personalized “news for you” feature much, judging by some of the comments in a Google News support forum on the topic, as well as comments on a Nieman Journalism Lab story on the new redesign. Whether the latest changes that Google has made will pacify some of those critics remains to be seen. Personalization may be the future of news, but the reality is that some people just don’t like change, period.