December 2011 Archive
Some reports and screenshots are surfacing from searchers seeing a new user interface and look at Bing. Like with Google, these user interface (UI) experiments are probably being shown to a small fraction of searchers and responses are being measured. Whether any of the pictured changes will be adopte will depend on how users respond to them.
I can't see either version on any browser that I've checked, but from the screenshots, the main changes seem to be
- Bing Logo in upper left has part of the daily picture behind it in a small square rather than across the whole header
- The search box is more easily visible on the plain color background, but there are few databases listed above the box to switch to (just Images, Videos, and Shopping in one or Images and Videos in the other
- The links in the upper right are styled differently, with the gear icon for preferences smaller and the drop down menu for signing in larger
- Tabs for other databases under the search box are gone
- Another version has no image behind the logo and the database links at the top moved further to the left
New Experimental UI:
New Experimental UI on Right when signed in:
Big changes are coming to the Google Advanced Search, but they have been intermittent in appearing and we may not yet see the final format. Right before Thanksgiving (here in the U.S.) there were numerous reports of the new advanced search but the appearance differed slightly (some had the descriptive text on the right and some did not, perhaps depending on browser and/or device). There were complaints about the loss of drop down menu functionality, the removal of the link search box, and many other unhappy advanced search users. The change seemed to roll in for most U.S. users at least between Nov. 19-23.
Then Google changed back to the former advanced search on Nov. 25 or 26. I have been checking since then to see if the new version might re-appear, and yesterday in one of my browsers (Internet Explorer 9) it came back (but not yet for me in other browsers or on other computers. At least there are now links at the bottom that mention link and similarity searching, but they just link to a page explaining how to use the link: and related: operators.
The new design looks more like some of Google's other newer designs and is perhaps more similar to a tablet interface. However, when I try actually using the new advanced search page, sorry Google, but it stinks. There are lots of little design and usability changes that make it more difficult to use, and it is definitely less instructive.
Tuesday, Google announced a new interface for its front page and search results, removing the black bar at the top with links to other databases and the options gear and moving those choices to a mouse-over, drop-down list that from the Google logo. I still do not see the change on any of my computers at home or on campus, but thanks to a trick posted on the Google Operating System blog, you can make the new interface appear by setting options in a cookie. It sounds like the intent is to make this a common interface across all Google properties. As Google says in the announcement, their goal is "making navigation and sharing super simple for people." (Note the addition of "sharing" which means that Google+ links and notes will be more prominent).
So I tried the new interface and compared it to the old. How well does it work for searchers? The old black bar at the top and its previous incarnations have made it easy for me to switch searches from one Google database to another. The new bar sort of works that way, but it has added several new links (none of which I use often) and removed several others (including those that I do). What has changed?
Some wording is different: "Web" is now "Search" and "Gmail" is just "Mail." But several databases have been removed:
The gear icon in the upper right hand corner of the home page that links to Search Settings, Advanced Search, and Language Tools is also gone from the new home page design. The Options gear shows up once you do a search. I don't mind not having Sites, since I don't use that, but switching a web search to a search in the Scholar, Blog, or Groups databases is a royal pain. Especially as an academic searcher, the loss of Scholar is significant. The Blogs database is available on the left if you expand the databases, but neither Scholar nor Groups is available there. See the screencast below for a comparison of old and new.
Exploring this change made me realized that Google really offers two places to search images and two places to search video. You can transfer your search from the Image database to "Photos" which gives you the results from Picasa Web Albums without requiring a log in. Note how the Video in the new interface has been moved to the end of the list. Again, you can transfer a search from the Video database to YouTube (for only YouTube videos and different ranking), but you cannot yet transfer from YouTube to the larger Google Video database.
And what's up with the News link? Why does that not transfer the search terms but instead just go to the Google News home page? Clicking the News link in the left margin works properly. Oh well, since I'm using a hack to get the new interface, perhaps these are all bugs that Google will fix before it is fully rolled out. Or so I hope.