New Google Home Page: Does it Remove or Add Distraction?

    December 6, 2009
    Chris Crum

Google has launched its new homepage, which looks generally the same, but removes everything but the logo, search box, and two buttons until the user moves the mouse. Google says most people go to the Google home page to search, and they wanted to remove the other distractions, unless users specifically want to see them.

This is an interesting philosophy, because it certainly grabs your attention when you move the mouse and and a bunch of new stuff appears. Perhaps, the move is really designed to draw attention to Google’s other services.

"Since most users who are interested in clicking over to a different application generally do move the mouse when they arrive, the ‘fade in’ is an elegant solution that provides options to those who want them, but removes distractions for the user intent on searching," Google says.

New Google Home Page

Google has been testing similar designs for several months. The company explains:

All in all, we ran approximately 10 variants of the fade-in. Some of the experiments hindered the user experience: for example, the variants of the homepage that hid the search buttons until after the fade performed the worst in terms of user happiness metrics. Other variants of the experiment produced humorous outcomes when combined with our doodles — the barcode doodle combined with the fade was particularly ironic in its overstated minimalism . However, in the end, the variant of the homepage we are launching today was positive or neutral on all key metrics, except one: time to first action. At first, this worried us a bit: Google is all about getting you where you are going faster — how could we launch something that potentially slowed users down? Then, we realized: we want users to notice this change… and it does take time to notice something (though in this case, only milliseconds!). Our goal then became to understand whether or not over time the users began to use the homepage even more efficiently than the control group and, sure enough, that was the trend we observed.

Judging from conversation on Twitter, opinions of the new page are pretty evenly mixed. Some think it’s "snazzy," while others feel it’s distracting." Some don’t like that you have to move the mouse to know where specific links are.

As with any design change to a popular site, there are going to be critics and supporters. The Google home page affects a great deal of web users. What is your opinion of the new change? Share your thoughts.

Related Articles:

> Google Testing a Revamp of the Search Results Page

> Facebook Tests "Many" New Design Changes

> Microsoft Unveils Big Redesign of MSN