Google’s Marissa Mayer, VP of both Search Products & User Experience, announced at the Google Blog last week:
You may have noticed the Google homepage feels a little different today. That's because we've reorganized our tabs, or ‘top links‘ -- the blue links to Images, News, Maps, etc.. In this iteration, you'll see that Google Video is now featured on the homepage…
we have a few destinations that people need to get to directly -- sometimes because the user experience relies heavily on browsing (News, Video) or because there's a different way of searching (Maps).
Mayer’s homepage reorganization seems to be focused on the “Search Products” function, rather than on the “User Experience,” however.
In “Google vs. Yahoo: homepage vertical search usability” I discuss the usability shortcomings of Google’s direct to vertical search from the homepage:
Google…falls short in a key area of homepage search usability: direct to vertical search from the homepage.
Vertical search is key…for..future growth. Vertical search users may be considered more ‘qualified‘ leads than general search users and ads on vertical SERPs, therefore, may command higher rates…
At the Google homepage, two of the five featured vertical search options are launched directly via a single click on a vertical tab: news and maps. Searches from the homepage for the other three verticals featured, however, lead to the specific vertical's homepage for initiation of a specialized search.
Google’s reorganization of its vertical “tabs” on the homepage has not served to improve Google’s direct to vertical search from the homepage.
Following the reorganization, two of the four featured Google vertical search options are launched directly via a single click on a vertical tab: News and Maps. Searches from the homepage for the other two verticals featured, Images and Video, however, lead to the specific vertical's homepage for a subsequent initiation of a specialized search.
Perhaps Google’s next homepage “revision” will aim to enhance direct to vertical search usability.
Mayer says Google is open to user input:
We'll be making more changes to the organization of our services over the next few months, so let us know what you think and we'll try and incorporate it in our next iteration.