The Inscrutable Google Docs Plus Button

Google DocsI find the aesthetics of Google’s Material design attractive (even if it’s not my favorite thing ever), but it takes some getting used to. What really caught me recently was the “make a new document” button in Google Docs.

When it comes down to it, it’s not the symbol itself that’s a big problem—I can make sense of a plus sign as something that adds another doc.

Mostly, it’s the placement of that button that gets me. The last iteration of Google Docs put the button in the upper left corner. With the redesign, it migrated to the opposite corner, so that was one change that threw me off.

Another part is that the button changed from a notice-grabbing, contrast-ey red to the same blue that everything else in the interface is. I guess they’re relying the contrast of blue against grey rather than a nice red that pops out of the page as a whole.

Lastly, Google changed from a text label to a plus sign. The plus sign makes enough sense when you think about it (although, as an aside, I’m skeptical of just using symbols rather than labels). Without the color and sensical placement of the button, though, there was no reason for me to think about what the plus sign meant. It wasn’t even that I found the button confusing—I simply didn’t think about it until I realized I didn’t know how to create a new document.