Google Talks Design Tweaks, and More to Come

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Google Talks Design Tweaks, and More to Come
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Google has of course announced the Google+ Project, the company’s new approach at a social network. You may have noticed that there are some subtle design changes to Google properties as well – most noticeably a black bar going across the top.

When you get into the Google+ Project (it requires an invite), you will see a “You” link up there. For now, you get standard stuff like “web,” “images,” “videos,” “maps,” “news,” “shopping,” “Gmail,” and “more.” Google says its new design focuses on three key design principles, which it describes as:

  • Focus: Whether you’re searching, emailing or looking for a map, the only thing you should be concerned about is getting what you want. Our job is to provide the tools and features that will get you there quickly and easily. With the design changes in the coming weeks and months, we’re bringing forward the stuff that matters to you and getting all the other clutter out of your way. Even simple changes, like using bolder colors for actionable buttons or hiding navigation buttons until they’re actually needed, can help you better focus on only what you need at the moment.
  • Elasticity: In the early days, there was pretty much just one way to use Google: on a desktop computer with an average-sized monitor. Over a decade later, all it takes is a look around one’s home or office at the various mobile devices, tablets, high-resolution monitors and TVs to see a plethora of ways to access the web. The new design will soon allow you to seamlessly transition from one device to another and have a consistent visual experience. We aim to bring you this flexibility without sacrificing style or usefulness.
  • Effortlessness: Our design philosophy is to combine power with simplicity. We want to keep our look simple and clean, but behind the seemingly simple design, use new technologies like HTML5, WebGL and the latest, fastest browsers to make sure you have all the power of the web behind you.

The bar running across multiple properties should help it promote Google+ greatly, as it kind of ties things together. This should be key in Google’s strategy. Interestingly, the bar doesn’t appear on all of the key properties. For me, it’s lacking from both Gmail and YouTube, at this point, which are arguably two of Google’s strongest social assets. It may still be rolling out, however:

@ryanheiser I have the black “Google Bar” in my gmail this AM…. 4 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Not everyone is thrilled with the black bar. Shocker. Here are a few examples of criticism from Twitter:

“Hey, let’s take the one color we almost never use and make the navigation bar that!” ~Google 12 hours ago via Twitterrific for Mac · powered by @socialditto

Yo! @Google What’s with the ugly black bar at the top of my search results?!? Weren’t you all about simple and uncluttered? 8 hours ago via Power Twitter · powered by @socialditto

The black menu bar at the top of the google home page is annoying… looks too much like the Bing home page. 11 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

I still can’t get over the black bar on google, it just ruins the whole feel of google. It was nice the way it was, may e some gradient? 12 minutes ago via Twitter for iPhone · powered by @socialditto

Google, your black nav bar blows. If I wanted a shitty UI I’d use Yahoo. 14 minutes ago via web · powered by @socialditto

Google does say to watch for design changes across all of its products over the next few months. In fact, the company is already showing off some changes with Google Maps.


Google Maps Before


Google Maps After

In search results, Google is starting to show author images, based on the recently announced authorship markup.

YouTube has already received a significant change in design in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see more. Also look for Google Music to get integrated with Google’s social efforts. It’s currently in beta, but Facebook is expected to launch a new music service soon, so I would assume Google would want Music to be a key part of its own social experience as well.

Google Talks Design Tweaks, and More to Come
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  • Jack

    I hate the black bar as well!! In fact why is Google changing things that we all liked and works.. instead of wasting time making things that were already great to worse, maybe Google should work on their search engine results, which if no one wants to say it, I will… ever since panda, my search result quality has become like Bing’s and I am not happy!

    • Nick

      Google has required a re-design for a long time. In fact I don’t think it was ever designed with a unified idea in the first place. The new designs for Maps, and the search page are both huge improvements (in my opinion). The thing that bugged me most about the website was the massive degree of fragmentation; with just the logo (new and old luckily looking similar because both are still in use!) to inform me that the pages belong to the same company.
      I think bad habit probably still remain though, just go from web search to video search and you’ll see what I mean. Two brand new pages with hardly anything in common. Just why is there a forced scroll bar on the web search and not on the image search! It’s not hard to keep designs under a common interface!

    • http://www.credit-card-counseling.org/ Sophie

      I totally agree with you. I hate Bing too!

  • gwen reed

    Vison Impaired.. Can’t Read Black Navigation Bar

    I am vision impaired. Due to the extremely low contrast of grey on black I Can’t read the black navigation bar. Even my well sighted friends find it difficult. All I am asking for is the option to change it back… Please, Google, Have a Heart!

  • http://www.simplyclicks.com Simply Clicks

    Last night I was in London and watched a presentation by a senior Google employee. It was amazing how the “old” Google designs jarred after just a few days of the new.

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