October 01, 2006

Google Experiments With New Interface for Results Page

I just stumbled upon this. Google seems to be trying out a new interface for the results page in which top navigation is moved to a new sidebar. The screenshots below were taken in IE7. I'm not sure if everyone can see this but it does appear to be a selective roll out because Firefox still shows the regular interface as always.

Current Interface



New Interface



There may be two main reasons for rolling this out now. One, Google has always struggled to make people use alternative searches more often. In user testing sessions I've observed a lot of users who have never used Google's image search, groups or Google News. They are often surprised that these services even exist! I believe Google's transition from tabs to plain links two years ago was to encourage use of those links. Likewise, the new interface for results page will lead more people to try out these alternative searches. If you look at full-page screenshot the links in the sidebar are repeated at the bottom of the results.

Second, with more and more people switching from 800x600 to 1024x768 resolution or above, a lot of space on the right side of the page is left unused. The new interface utilises horizontal space by adding a sidebar.

Google has said in the past that they keep experimenting with new features to improve their services. This may be one of those experiments.

3 Comments so far      

Blogger Soo:

I think there could be another reason. In the usual Google interface, the section labels (Web, Images, Video, News, Maps, more) are placed above the search box. So most users do not really associate them with the search results. If you see sensis.com.au they bring the categories down to the answers level, so you immediately connect that you can get answers from all these categories (All, web, local, news, etc).

12 October 2006 at 10:28:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Blogger Manu Sharma:

"In the usual Google interface, the section labels (Web, Images, Video, News, Maps, more) are placed above the search box. So most users do not really associate them with the search results."

Yes, exactly. That's my point. It's up and away and kind of inaccessible from the centre of a user's attention - the search results area. Putting them in a sidebar brings them much closer to the results.

Note that, if you look at the original Google's search results interface pre-2004 the links are much closer...right above the results rather than on top of the search box as of now.

12 October 2006 at 11:29:00 GMT+5:30 link  
Anonymous Anonymous:

I think google is trying these new features after learning their expereince with smahsearch. I saw this interface there sometinme ago.

16 October 2006 at 08:16:00 GMT+5:30 link  

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