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by Stephen Logan on 30th June 2011
If you’ve taken even a passing interest in Google over the past few days you will no doubt have noticed a few minor changes to the design. These have subtly accumulated over time, but now appear to have clumped together to form an entirely new look for the search engine.
Gone is the colourful, cartoon-like left-hand side navigation and blue text. In its stead is the rather sparse and austere grey and red imagery. The options have also had something of a facelift. There appears to be no room for the Wonder Wheel, whilst new options such as ‘Not yet visited’ and ‘Reading level’ have been introduced. Then of course there is the black bar.
As somebody who stringently resists change in any form, the updated design doesn’t sit well with me. It’s dour and strangely uninviting. Whilst the grey gives it a bleak, industrial look, the flecks of red give the appearance of an error page. However my opinion is just that, so to aid impartiality and reduce my own workload, I’ve asked the Koozai team to provide their individual input. This is what I ended up with:
Tom Howlett – (@Koozai_Tom)
I believe the design to be aesthetically inviting, giving it a fresh look; something I think has been long overdue. Usability appears to be improved even though it doesn’t actually offer much else. It looks like an attempt to modernise the look to work alongside the Google+ social network.
Dean Marsden (@Koozai_Dean)
It looks as though Google have only redesigned the results page to match their design of Google Plus. I believe long standing Google fans will not appreciate the new look as it is too similar to other websites, however I personally like the addition of the extra white space and clearly defined areas of the top bar, search box, result filters and results. For me, it is more useable.
Mike Essex (@Koozai_Mike)
On the left hand side I preferred the old design, the red is quite shocking and there feels like too much padding now. The black bar is great and nicely inherited from Twitter. Oh and where is the Wonder Wheel now?
Andrew Curtis (@Koozai_AndrewC)
Maybe it will affect websites in a big way. Sites that have been used to holding a top spot may be more vulnerable from sites that are more proactive with off-site activities.
If Google are allowing users to search by a time line; latest, past 24 hrs, past week and also allow us to search by either relevance or by date, that means website owners need to be ‘on the ball’ with quality, up to date content with more emphasis on articles, press releases, blogs.
Nick Wright (@Koozai_Nick)
All I have to say is that the washed out, monochrome appearance is not as appealing as the previous bright and colourful theme.
I can also see that the increased search parameters could initially cause more confusion for the average user, but presumably, in time, this will make it easier to find what you are looking for?
James Perrin (@Koozai_James)
I’m not a massive fan of the black bar at the top, it doesn’t sit well with Google products. Overall though, purely on aesthetics I don’t mind it too much and nor do I think people will care, as long as it still returns the great results as this is what people care about. Most users will hardly even notice.
Generally speaking, the new look has received a mixed response, which is hardly surprising really. The changes aren’t so extensive that the SERPs are now unrecognisable, but they are certainly noticeable. Unless of course you are still seeing the old version, like my colleague Rob Arkell.
Design is entirely subjective. One person’s masterpiece is another’s nightmare, you can never please everyone – as is indicated by the array of perspectives above. Function though, particularly with something as structured as a search engine, is far more important. Therefore it will be interesting to see what impact, if any, the addition and removal of various search options has.
Will anybody even notice, does anybody actually care? It’s all too easy to place added importance to something that is actually rather trivial. However, when the world’s most popular search engine, which provides the majority of traffic to many websites, has a major makeover, it’s important to consider the ramifications.
As is often the case, people will soon become accustomed to the new design and even the most ardent opponent of the black bar will begin to accept it. Constant use generally brings about familiarity, which is what gives Google a free license to have a reshuffle every year or so. Whilst I don’t much care for the appearance, I’m not going to stop using the search engine on grounds of personal taste – an opinion which I’m sure is shared by a fair number of folk out there too.
So what do you think? Add your voice to the conversation, even if you don’t care, feel free to share.