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Google Bar Goes Back to Top, but Still Forgets Scholar

Back in November, Google started launching a new interface it dubbed the Google Bar. At that time, in my comparison between the old and the new versions, I was dismayed by the removal of several databases from the drop down list. Over the months since that announcement, the new Google Bar was only very gradually being rolled out, and many users never saw it. Then, last week, Google announced a retreat. Instead of the new drop-down-from-the-logo Google Bar (like in the image if you'd not seen it), they are going back to the black menu bar at the top "with a consistent and expanded set of links running across the top of the page."

Unfortunately, the links are consistent with newly abandoned design in that the following databases and product are lost from appearing in the top black bar and from the drop down under "More."

  • Blogs
  • Scholar
  • Groups
  • Sites

In addition, Video is now down in last place on the More drop down and YouTube is featured instead in the top bar. Google-owned YouTube is certainly the dominant web video provider, but this will make it less likely that Google users will find non-YouTube content. How much of a difference is that?

The database loss means that it is now more difficult and time consuming to take a search in Google and switch it to Scholar, Groups, or Blogs (all three databases that I use somewhat regularly, especially Scholar). You can still get to the Blogs database by switching to News (but you have to use the link on the left rather than the link in the top bar which just goes to the News home page) and then once the news results display, look for the Blogs link under All News on the left. 

Does this mean Scholar may be destined for the Google graveyard or just that Google finds that most Scholar users do not start from a Google search and then switch to Scholar? We'll need to wait and see. What's gone or more hidden?

  • Search switching to Google Scholar and Groups
  • Video search demoted
  • Google Sites link buried under "Even more"
  • The "Web" database is now just called "Search"

So what is being featured instead?

  • Plus
  • Mobile (which is just a direct link to the ad for Google Mobile, it is of little use to computer users)
  • Music (not a searchable database but another ad for another recent Google product)
  • Offers (another ad for a newer Google product attempting to compete with Groupon and LivingSocial)
  • Wallet (ad for new, recently-hacked Google payment scheme)
  • Blogger (a long-time Google service not previously available from the main menus)

It seems like a continuing move towards increased Google product promotion and a diminished role for searchable databases.

Other changes include the loss of the colored line at the top identifying the database, larger fonts, ane more spacing. Here is a visual comparison of the top bar in the new and old interface:

And here is another showing the differences between the More drop downs, including a move to larger, bolder black text and the absence of a divider between mostly databases on the top and services on the bottom:

By Greg R. Notess. Dated Feb 14, 2012 in Google


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