Google Advanced Search Showdown
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.
What has changed?
- The box at the top that would display the command version of the search is gone
- Instructions have been added to the right of the boxes
- Any Words is now one box rather than three with ORs in between
- You no longer have to click the "Date, usage rights, region, and more" link to get the full advanced search page
- Order of boxes has changed: Numeric range search, language, and region are more prominent
- Number of results per page is gone
- Wording on left has changed for some boxes and is usually shorter (NOT, site limit, terms appearing)
- Safe Search added "moderate" as an option and is now a slide bar
- In IE, many of the boxes are empty by default with no default limit showing
- No more Page-specific tool boxes (for link and related searching) but new links at bottom
What are my complaints?
- The loss of the box at the top that shows the actual advanced syntax was a great instructional tool (although it probably confused some users since you could not type in it)
- That means that you have to run your search before you can see the syntax
The instructions on the right say what will happen but if interpreted as directions create bizarre syntax. For example, the OR box says "Type OR between all the words. . . " and if you do that in the box with somethine like
picture OR imageyou end up with
picture OR OR OR imageinstead (see screencast below)
- The explanatory text on the right wraps poorly and underneath boxes on a window less than 1088 pixels or so (same if you just enlarge the font). In Firefox and Chrome, some explanatory text can even disapper
- Why do some of the boxes have the default language (for me in IE, last update and terms appearing) but not others (like language, region, reading level, file type, or usage rights)? (See screencast below)
- In IE9, the text is not even centered vertically in the box. And when in compatibility view, the "Advanced Search" button is truncated.
- In a window narrower than 1000px, text overlaps other text. More sloppy design.
Overall, the new design gets in the way of searching, looks poorly designed, and its only redeeming feature is that I do not have to click the plus to get the full set of advanced features (except for the link and related searching boxes which have been removed).
See a comparison for yourself: