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Google Finance: Simple, Sophisticated

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The search advertising company launched its financial news site last night, with an interesting take on meshing stock charts and news related to a company.

Google Finance: Simple, Sophisticated
Google Launches Financial Site

How useful have you found Google’s new Finance site? Does it offer what you want for financial news? What did you expect Google to do with Finance? Deposit your comments at WebProWorld.

The new Google Finance presents a very uncluttered look to the first-time visitor. A Market Summary of four major North American indexes shows their prices and price changes with a Flash-based chart, and a list of finance-related news items appears below the summary.

That very simple look quickly yields its more sophisticated features. Mousing over each of the indexes in the market summary changes the chart to match the index being selected. Entering a stock symbol into the search box brings up information one expects to see for a publicly-traded company: stock price, market cap, trading volume, and the usual ratios.

News about the company appears on the right, with each news item tagged with a letter. Those letters appear on the stock chart below the stock price. Here, Google has neatly crafted its chart with click and drag functionality familiar to users of Google Maps.

Users can drag the chart back and forth to see the peaks and valleys of a stock’s performance in the market. On top of that, a resizable window over a five-year chart of the stock price can be widened or narrowed. That changes the part of the stock chart displayed.

Those letter tags for news items appear on the chart, where users can see how the stock performed on the day of that news event. Clicking the letter next to a news item highlights it in blue on the chart. By clicking a letter on the chart, the related news item on the right will have its corresponding letter highlight. The news will scroll to display the item if it is not currently in view.

The news draws its content from Google News, and visitors can get probably most of the information they want about a company without ever scrolling down the page past the news and chart. But there is a lot more information to find below the chart and news.

Company facts, a summary, financials, and the management team appear in sections. Mousing over a member of the management team displays a picture and more information about the individual. Further down the page, company related posts found in Google Blog Search appear. A section on related companies show how the competition has performed.

Users can also choose from links within a section of more resources, like analyst estimates or SEC filings. Finally, Google offers discussion groups for each company, and dedicated a section of the Finance FAQ to discussing how those work.

Google has people watching these discussion groups, to ensure posts comply with guidelines they have set forth. While primarily they have been focused on providing a civil discussion environment, Google does not want pump-and-dump touts working the groups either.

Google’s noted engineer and blogger Matt Cutts posted about one aspect of the search on Google Finance he particularly likes:

If you do a search for Lexmark, the search will show you an info page for Lexmark (stock symbol: LXK). If you didn’t want a company profile page, over in the top right is a “Find more results for lexmark” link so you can search for Lexmark Canada or whatever. At most finance pages, if you typed “Lexmark” into the search box, you’ll get a message like “That’s not a stock symbol! Click over here to search for a stock symbol.” You end up clicking 3-4 times, when the logical behavior is to give you the best matching stock profile, then give you the option to do a deeper search.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Google Finance: Simple, Sophisticated
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