“The Chrome Web Store was created in December 2010, so it’s getting quite old now. Since its inception, it has only been given one coat of paint and that was two years ago – a light and already outdated brush of material design. It’s all but dead, but now is a better time than ever to give it new life with a renewed purpose. If Google wants new Chromebook users to find great “software” to get up and running out of the box, I say here and now that instead of relying on the Google Play Store, they ought to completely revamp the Chrome Web Store instead of killing it off.”Me, three years ago!
Those were my words three years ago, and here we are – today, Google unveiled a new Chrome Web Store redesign in ‘Preview’, complete with material design, new discovery and more! It has a featured slider front and center as shown below and showcases some of the best apps, extensions and themes available. The left-hand sidebar has been removed for a continuous feed of content and a top navigation bar for things like extensions and themes. However, when you visit one of those categories, you get the sidebar back, albeit with a more simple and clean layout with clickable categories.
Each app, extension or theme now rests on a modern, slick card style with rounded corners, giving the Web Store a more consistent appearance with the Google Play Store. The search bar has been moved to the top right of the screen, where you can easily find what you are looking for. You can also use search modifiers to filter by all items, featured items, or established publishers. These are publishers who have abided by Google’s rules to protect your data and not abuse it via their new ‘Seal of approval’. You can also sort by relevance or rating to find the best items for your needs.
The Web Store also uses the word “Collections” to group together extensions, themes or apps that Google has curated based on specific needs you may have. For example, you can find collections for tools and utilities, productivity, dark mode, and more.
When you click on an individual item’s page, you will see screenshots front and center, much like the Google Play Store. You will also see a more rounded ‘Add to Chrome’ button, a cleaner layout for categories, and the details, privacy, overview, and related items neatly listed in a column instead of tabs. The Web Store makes it easy to learn more about each item before you install it, and more importantly, whether or not it’s safe to install!
If you’re new to Chrome and want some recommendations on what to install, Google has also compiled a nice ‘Extensions starter kit’ featuring items you can trust and enjoy. There’s a bit of everything here such as tools for blocking ads, managing passwords, taking screenshots, and more.
The new Web Store redesign is a welcome change that makes the platform more user-friendly and attractive after way too long of a wait. It’s also a sign that Google isn’t giving up on it, and maybe, just maybe, realizes the need for a one-stop shop for great web content instead of dumping that task for discovery on the end user and tossing them into the wild, wild west of the open web alone.
As I argued in my article three years ago, the Web Store needed this redesign badly, and I am glad to see Google finally make it happen. I also hope that the company will continue to weed out all of the low quality crap, make a more cohesive user experience for selection, and add even more popular and useful web apps that users can install once they get their Chromebooks out of the box (like the new Google Home for web!).
Here’s to hoping that the next stage in Google’s plan is merging the Web Store with the Play Store and then killing off the Play branding to roll all of that into the “Google Store” where they can sell hardware, apps, extensions and themes with one consistent website just like Apple does! It’s okay if this takes a decade like this redesign did, but I prefer it happen before I start to wrinkle!