Google to ditch homepage simplicity with radical redesign
Back when Marissa Meyer was a high-profile Googler, before she became inextricably linked to the moribund Yahoo brand, she wrote a blog post about the search engine’s famously simplistic UI. I’ll save you reading the 613 words for yourself: when answering support emails, she stumbled across somebody who sent in missives containing the number of words on the Google homepage: “13”, “33”, “53”, “61, getting a bit heavy aren’t we?”
Although most people would block the email address and type the words “restraining order” into her own product, Ms Meyer’s approach was to take it as a learning moment: Google developed a drive to keep the word count as low as possible. And this is how the company’s homepage has stayed ever since. Just a text box waiting to be filled with whatever’s on your mind at any given moment. “Just count the words,” she wrote. “The fewer, the better. Ever since that night, this has been our discipline, and everyone who works on the homepage and its design knows the current number: 28.”
That was nine years ago, and Google is about to take a radical departure from this philosophy by integrating the company’s interests and news feed, according to The Guardian. Think how it is on Google’s mobile app, with Google Now stylings.
Writing about the smart feed for mobile on the Google blog, Shashi Thakur, Google’s vice president of engineering, wrote: “You’ll see cards with things like sports highlights, top news, engaging videos, new music, stories to read and more. And now, your feed will not only be based on your interactions with Google, but also factor in what’s trending in your area and around the world. The more you use Google, the better your feed will be.”
The change is going to roll out for US users immediately and will spread internationally over the coming weeks.
Suffice it to say Marissa Meyer’s mystery emailer would likely be unimpressed with this development, but you can’t imagine Google would do something as drastic as this without the raw data to back it up. On top of that, when was the last time you actually visited Google.co.uk and typed something in? For me, it’s all done through the browser bar. That may be anecdotal, or it could be symptomatic of a wider trend – where once Google was attractive for its simplicity, it may now need a little complexity to keep users visiting.