Google is the darling of search. I have tried or currently use most of Google's products. I would even say that I like most of the services but overall the user experience is sometimes confused and the consistency between applications is lacking.
- From the Google home page one of the core interface elements is "Feeling lucky." However this design element is missing from every single other home page and sub-page.
- From Gmail I can get to the Google Home Page but from the Google home page I can't get back to Gmail. The links that seem to be in the same place Gmail and Calendar leave you hanging.
- The button labels for Searching are not consistent across products. Sometimes its the product name first: "Google Search." Sometimes it's the product name last: "Search Froogle." Many other times it's just "Search" for groups and maps. Still other times Google uses the content: "Search Images" or "Search News."
- The location of the search box changes as you move between the different properties. This makes it harder to "surf" between the different tabs. Compare this with Yahoo design.
- Google Maps and Google Earth have the same conceptual intent. The user is expected to look at places and maps. Both designs are completely different in look, feel, navigation, search results and interactions. Even allowing some room for the fact that these were separate companies not too long ago the two products continue to have diverging designs.
- The nice spellchecker in Gmail is nowhere to be seen in the blogger editor. The spellchecker in the Google Firefox toolbar doesn't even work within Blogger.
- Tools like Google desktop and Picassa both provide aspects of desktop search only both applications install system file listeners.
- Search results are another example where you don't really know what you're going to get. Google news provides tools to sort, Google images and groups provide tools to filter, while in normal web-results you can't do either.
Each product on its own does a good job but even years after some acquisitions the products don't seem like they are crafted by the same company.