Google has spruced up Google Groups in a bid to make the service more user friendly.
Google Groups offers a wide variety of discussion forums where users can read and post messages on their favorite topics. But the current interface has been showing its age, so a revamp has been long overdue.
As one enhancement, Google has made it easier to search for and browse both groups and individual postings by entering a topic in a single search bar. Once users find a group they want to follow, they can now add it to a list of favorites easily accessible on the left side of the window. As a result, the overall interface has a cleaner and more streamlined look and feel.
New keyboard shortcuts offer a way to quickly cycle through the different forum threads and topics. To find a list of all the new shortcuts, users can press ? on their keyboard. Also, tapping into a new toolbar of icons, users can more easily format text and add hyperlinks and images.
The redesigned Google Groups will roll out as an option over the next week, giving users the opportunity to preview the new look and features. Google is also promising other enhancements, including better spam control, forum moderators, and improved search. The spam control is especially needed since Google Groups, like so many other public discussion forums, gets hit by a fair amount of spam postings.
Designed as its own take based on Usenet newsgroups, Google launched Google Groups in 2001 when it bought the Usenet archives from Deja News. The service offers access to public Usenet newsgroups as well groups created by users themselves. Some groups are open to join while others are invitation-only. Customers of Google Apps can also create their own groups to use within a company or other organization.