Are the people telling Google it's time for a redesign?

Are the people telling Google it's time for a redesign?

Summary: I was waiting at an airport for a very long flight the other day when I came across the Search Results League Table.This was the one declaring that, for example, Jessica Alba was the 10th most popular search inquiry on Yahoo.

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I was waiting at an airport for a very long flight the other day when I came across the Search Results League Table.

This was the one declaring that, for example, Jessica Alba was the 10th most popular search inquiry on Yahoo. Yes, only 10th.

While Google's 10th spot, using a methodology based on the fastest rising, rather than most frequent, searches was taken by the eminently searchable Anna Nicole Smith.

Amongst the top 10 searches on Yahoo you could find Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Beyonce, Lindsay Lohan, the WWE and Fergie (No, not the rather boisterous lady who once took the eye, and perhaps even some of the wallet, of Prince Andrew).

Which made me think that it was entirely possible that the eminences in Yahoo's PR Department might have been very keen to have their brand appear somewhat modern and, dare I use the term, sexy.

While Google took a far less glamorous, and perhaps more political, approach by featuring MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and, er, Webkinz in its Top Ten.

These little strategems seem to play out on the home pages of each site.

While Yahoo's home page attempts to project energy and has just told me, amongst many other essential things, that German beer prices are going up because of a worldwide barley shortage (clearly Britney has not got up yet), Google continues to limit itself to asking me whether I'm feeling lucky, maintaining its successful facade of simplicity.

Of course I am, Mr. Google. I'm in London and there are piddling storms and winds from the darkest areas of hell forecast for the weekend.

Perhaps if one asked the Google folks why their home page has maintained an exterior drier than Saddam Hussein's sandal, they might say something about consistency, or essence, or not wanting to exclude a single Googleizer, whatever their age, sex or proclivities with respect to Beyonce.

There again, Google is supposed to be the most modern, most progressive, most proactive, visionary company in the world. (Well, someone from Google told me that on the plane anyway.)

While its home page might have been designed by Vera Vince, aged 14.

Google shares with, for example, Starbucks, the distinction of becoming one of the world's most impactful brands without launching any kind of concerted advertising or design effort at all. (Gosh, think of the money that saved.)

Yet even Starbucks has ventured to experiment with advertising of late.

Might it be an idea for Google to consider a slightly more modern, more visual, more, well, human and visionary welcome than that of a sixty-year-old croupier in Reno whose varicose veins are playing up?

Should anyone out there agree with me, please feel free to make suggestions as to the directions a re-design might take.

As for now, I will leave the design of this post as a tribute to the Google home page.

With no pictures, a healthy dose of melatonin for jet lag and a hope that you're feeling fortunate.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google

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18 comments
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  • Try iGoogle

    That's it -- just "iGoogle.com" -- you can put all the widgets and junk you want on your "home page." Mine has random pictures from Picassa, emails from my Gmail account, the local weather forecast, and my Google Calendar. I set it as my home page, and I love it.

    But when I want to do a quick and simple search, it's faster and easier just to go to google.com, without the eye candy.
    eborah9
    • iGoogle

      The problem is that iGoogle could use some major improvements. It's RSS boxes aren't as informative as those from other sites, a large number of its modules are buggy, and the forced width of every module limits the usefulness of some modules that then force a scrollbar to display everything.

      But if you want the additional content everytime you go to Google, you can also go to Google.com, and click "iGoogle" in the upper right and from then on, going to Google.com will auto-forward you to google.com/ig (the same address as iGoogle.com). If you ever want to switch it back, click "Classic home" in the upper right.
      ac2_z
  • RE: Are the people telling Google it's time for a redesign?

    Nah - don't agree with you. Googles just fine.
    tcalbaz9
  • RE: Are the people telling Google it's time for a redesign?

    Use iGoogle if you want a bunch of annoying eye candy. Why muck up the home page and make it a mess like Yahoo has done? KISS...
    terisman1
  • Simple design is good

    While the rest of the web went crazy making portals,
    Google kept their home page simple and focused.
    Looking at Google and Yahoo side by side, Google still
    wins - especially since it doesn't shove ads in my face
    right away.
    crgray
  • Simple!

    I use google precisely because of it's simple design. I don't need all that crap thrown in my face. I want a search, not a portal.
    SniperCT
  • Simple doesn't have to mean dull

    Hmm. I agree with all of you that simple is best. But there's a big distinction between simple andn child-like and I think Google's home page veers towards the latter.
    Prada is simple. Old Navy is child-like.
    Thank you for your comments. Still bloody raining in London.

    Chris
    joaquindenilson
  • And here's a tech example

    Apple is simple, modern, accessible, cool.

    Put Apple's design esthetic next to Google's.

    See what I mean?

    Chris
    joaquindenilson
  • Apple vs Google

    Give Apple a product spec that has 1 feature and I guarantee you that you will have something that looks good, works well, and is simple...because that's all they can do...it's 1 feature!!!

    How many keys do you need to start a car?

    This is the same principle. Google's homepage unlocks the internet and the awesome power behind such a simple page. If you provide people more than 1 option that does the exact same thing, then why present the option?

    Most would agree that Google's homepage is simple and that's why they like it. For those that want to design their own Google homepage then I'm sure there are options...Google does have a free search bar...just add that to a page of your choice and voila. Maybe Apple can redesign the fork or Rubik's Cube.
    THEE WOLF
  • Perhaps the weather dampened your spirits?

    Chris,
    Having just completed an outdoor stag-do in the hellish rains of Hertfordshire, I must agree with you that feeling lucky is high on my list. However, I must also say that the unluckiest I feel (online, that is, I'm not that bound to the monitor!) is at Yahoo's increasingly complicated and unruly web-top.

    If I were invited into someone's house after the weather we've just had, I'd much rather it were a nice Scandinavian-clean place with a log fire, mulled wine, and clean sofa (and maybe a towel or three). I'd hate to have to fight my way through piles of discarded Heat Magazines, Cosmos, and flashing, broken lamps to find a tiny seat and need a menu to find six varieties of hot libation. Maybe you need a bit more order to appreciate the simplicity of Google's page. NB: I'm not a fanboy: Google's omnipresence and likeliness of knowing everything about me scares the hell out of me. But for a place to land online, it's top at the moment.
    -All the Best, Zach (http://www.zachbeauvais.com)
    zbeauvais
  • Yes, the weather is killing me

    Oh, please don't get me wrong. I wasn't thinking that Google should be like Yahoo.

    I think Yahoo's energy is right for Yahoo.

    That brand needs to be expressing energy.

    But I am far more concerned that the Google homepage is childlike and suffers from seriously rudimentary design skills.

    This may have been appropriate when Google was a start-up.

    But it's not even remotely reflective of the brand now.

    Chris
    joaquindenilson
  • A bit of sunshine now...

    Ths sun has broken through finally--just before dusk! Trust the weather to feature in a tech talk (only in Britain!). I don't really like the Google design, and I think the logo is ridiculous. I also agree with your calling it childish. The only problem is: "That's what Google looks like". What could they possibly do now which wouldn't annoy, disturb, off-piss or confuse a huge number or people?

    Obviously, the design would need to be supremely simple, clean, and sorted (in the English sense). It would need to be branded, subtle, and above all: easy to use. I'd be very, very interested to see what you'd do with the Google home page. There is something iconic about it now, and very familiar. It's been my landing page since I began online (early 00's) and I'd be confused without it. It's also almost a retreat, a step back to Google after being lost somewhere information-rich. A bit of an: "I'm lost, where do I go from here." I also guess most people don't spend much time actually looking at Google.com.

    I like the Firefox start page, which is also simple, but it features ads on the very front... not necessarily the best for me.

    What do you reckon?
    -Zach (www.zachbeauvais.com)
    zbeauvais
  • I reckon

    that when there is a good redesign, one that more accurately reflects the brand, people very quickly forget what the previous design looked like.

    Until, 20 years later, they find some reference of the old design in a junk shop and say:"Aaaahhh...those were the days" or some such sad cliche..

    Chris

    ps wish I could enjoy the London weather. I am now in Warsaw (I am a pretty busy chap) and it's bloody dark, cold and wet. AAAAggghhh.
    joaquindenilson
    • Enjoy your journey

      And I hope the weather is brighter in the morning.

      -Zach
      zbeauvais
  • I disagree with you

    I like Google the way it is. It's like craigslist, nice and simple and to the point. Nothing gets in the way of users being able to accomplish the core task the website is designed to perform and the results of the core function are returned in a easy to read, unobstructed format. I dislike Yahoo! and the others because I feel their websites are too cluttered with irrelevant junk. I'm all for keeping Google's simplicity.

    - John Musbach
    John Musbach
  • More graphic

    They could change "Web Images Maps News Products Gmail more ▼" for something more graphical (like icons).
    pablo Dante
    • More graphic?

      Now that's a start. graphic expressions rather than words.

      But, come on, 'I'm feeling lucky'?

      Is that the sort of thing the world's most progressive company should have on its home page.

      Look at some of the great designs around you. Nike ID, for example.

      As I've said before, I'm all for simple. I'm not saying Google's home page should be like Yahoo's.

      This is about style.

      I'm saying it should accurately reflect the brand as, allegedly, the most progressive, modern brand in the world. Not some little start-up in a garage.

      And it plainly doesn't. Plainly.

      Chris
      joaquindenilson
  • RE: Are the people telling Google it's time for a redesign?

    iGoogle is definitely a good place to go if you want the constant information overload that is most search/portal sites ;)

    From a design standpoint, I believe Google actually is ahead of the pack. Designs everywhere are going simple and clean (see design leaders like Target print ads, or Apple... even the new OLPC site)
    supernova_7