Changes are in the wings for Google’s search interface. After trawling through the forums recently, I stumbled upon a conversation outlining the new interface that Google seems to be trialing secretly. Whilst the new layout doesn’t seem to be ground breaking, it does provide scope for some significant changes and opportunities.
The most obvious change is the new graphical advanced search options on the left hand side. Where Google’s main page was comprised of essentially 2 columns, with organic listings making up the core column, and sponsored listings (pay-per-click advertising) on the right hand side, the new layout allows Google to provide navigation to other search categories in the newly created left hand frame.
Why you ask?
Why has Google taken their trusty and reliable format and chosen to change it now? It all comes down to best use of web real estate. By moving their additional search categories from the top of the page (traditionally below the search box), to the new left hand column, it allows their actual search results to feature higher on the page. This means that more content will fit within the standard window.
It also means more exposure for Google’s other search categories. As you all know, the eye tracks left to right, so anyone who uses Google instinctively looks at the left hand column expecting organic search results. They will now be drawn to the alternative search category navigation, with graphical representation of content available. I guesstimate this is aimed at helping / encouraging users to explore the other search categories available.
The new left frame also gives Google more scope for expanding its additional search categories. Where its current layout displays the alternative search categories across the top of the page which has limited space, the new left hand navigation, provides the scope for Google to extensively increase its search options, or even use the space for other means. This is a prudent strategic layout move for the search giant as other search categories are being trialed such as the new Google Finance search and resources page (available from http://finance.google.com).
So you want to trial the interface? Here’s how!
It’s a 4 step process:
- Open a new window with Google.com
- Then copy and paste the following code into the search box: (1 continuous string)
- Click enter
- Start searching
Voila – now you can see and explore the changes for yourself.
While there is no clear indication of when this new layout or any other interface changes are going to be implemented, a search page makeover is probably overdue for Google. What does have me bemused is why Google hasn’t explored the functionality of Web 2.0 in the new interface. Whilst Web 2.0 is not essential for a search results page, it does provide users more control and customization over their search journey, a fact that Windows Live Search and even Ask.com have been quick to explore.
Hmmm, I wonder if Google is keeping some of its changes under wraps.
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