Aug 5 2010 · Random
Google has announced it will be shutting it down.
I saw the demo of it in the Google I/O webcast last year, it seemed interesting, like Facebook comments but more professional and more generic (not limited to a closed social network); however, the idea of it as a service to replace email left me uneasy. I liked email. Sure it could be better, and Wave was in some ways better, but it didn’t seem substantially better. On a more ideological level, I also liked that email was vendor-free, I wasn’t chained to Google for my most important communication tool.
I was somewhat alone in this opinion. Most outlets were already predicting Wave as the next big thing and the end of email was fast approaching (nice summary from SAI).
Using Wave was disappointing. It was like being in an empty chatroom as no one in my social network was there. Lonely, but I figured that could change, this was, after all, just an early beta. Most striking to me was the 3-column design, which seemed like overkill and placed, IMO, an overload of information on the screen (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a successful app with a 3-column layout). More importantly the actual user interaction seemed quirky. You had your list of waves in the center column, but you replied to and created new waves in the right-most column. The information in the 2 columns were intimately linked, but the layout made the thread and its associated waves seem disconnected. A 2-column layout with a Facebook-comment-esque system in the right-hand column would seem to have been a better design and allowed for user content to claim the majority of screen real estate. One early lesson I learn working on apps: let the user’s content come through.
Beyond my first impressions, nothing brought me back to Wave. It wasn’t significantly better than email and having yet another messaging or social networking tool was a burden for me. It may have been an okay project collaboration tool, but the feature set never blew me away and my misgiving about the UI didn’t compel me to go in that direction.