Visual Storytelling - T. Benjamin Larsen's Blog

When less becomes more

-Why Google's redesign misses the mark

Google recently redesigned their classic home-page. The new design removed all elements apart from the logo, the search-bar, and, the two search-buttons. The new design is clean and is almost as simple as humanly possible.

New look Google

On the surface this sounds like a good thing, right? I personally think «less is more» is a good mantra in most situations, but there are times when "less" actually becomes "more", adding confusion and making things more complicated than they need to be. Google have recently made such a change with their start page

Same thing after the fade-in

On the surface it seems they've just streamlined the user interface by removing all clutter and focusing solely on the search-field. Unfortunately this is only half the truth. As soon as you move the mouse-pointer the additional choices will fade in with a neat(ish) effect. So why is this a bad thing? There are actually a couple of reasons:

1. Your choices are not immediately available If you enter planning to do a picture-search, you will have to move the mouse, and locate the choice you want to make before being able to choose it. This ads an unnecessary extra step to achieving your goals.

2. The fade-effect commands attention Most people probably enter to do a simple web-search, and a clean page with only the search-field available makes sense in this context. Unfortunately the moment anyone move their mouse they will have a hard time not looking at the fading menus. Earlier the search-field commanded attention simply by design, it was bang in the middle and the smaller menus were modest and close to invisible to anyone not looking for more advanced features.

Now, I guess a lot of people would claim that these things don't matter and that I'm nitpicking on details no-one cares about. They could be right, but why on earth would Google do extra work to make their site less user-friendly, even if only slightly so? It seems almost like a flashback to the blink tag of early web-sites and I'm really surprised to see this coming from Google! If nothing else there is some comfort to find in the fact that somewhat so constantly great as Google can get it wrong on occasion.