Google made it known to the blog-reading world this week that will be "spiffing up your search results page." But is the new design really so spiffy? Or just more mobile friendly? We checked in with Google, as well as some outside analysts and users for their impressions.
First, let's get Google's take. Jon Wiley, lead designer at Google Search, did some explaining from his perspective. For starters, he said, you'll notice a new simpler, cleaner design on the search results page.
"We've been working on ways to create a consistent search experience across the wide variety of devices and screen sizes people use today," he said. "We started with tablets last year, got it to mobile phones a few weeks ago, and are now rolling out to the desktop."
Tapping the Knowledge Graph
With the new design, Wiley said, there's more breathing room, and more focus on the answers you're looking for. That, he said, is true whether you are looking at results from a web search or from a feature like the Knowledge Graph.
The Knowledge Graph is a carousel at the top of the results page that gives you results in image form. You can explore collections from the Knowledge Graph on any topic, like "museums in NYC" or "popular movies in 2011." The idea is to help you conduct research on a topic faster and more in depth.
"The same advanced tools you're used to are still there when you need them. Just click on 'Search tools' to filter or drill down on your results," Wiley said. The new design is "going out to Google.com users in the U.S. to start, and we want to get it to users in other languages and regions as soon as we can."
A More Consistent Experience
We caught up with Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, to get his take on the new Google design. He told us Google does seem to be offering more prominence and frequency to Knowledge Graph results. But, he added, the more interesting thing here is the way in which tablet and mobile search results and their layout have influenced the redesign.
"Last year, travel site Kayak did something similar. It redesigned its desktop experience to conform or be consistent with its tablet and mobile designs. That was prompted by insights gleaned from mobile users but also a desire to make the experience more consistent across screens," Sterling said.
The same appears to be true for Google. The 'redesign' is intended to make the search-results page more consistent on the PC, tablet and smartphone. This reflects Google's observation and understanding of the new consumer behavior as people move across screens throughout the day. It's a 'brand' and usability consideration."
Wiley asked readers to chime in on the new design on Google's Google+ page. So far, that request has generated 165 comments. Some like the design and others have more questions than answers. Still others have complaints.
"I'm so happy it's nice for your tablets and cellphones, +Google," wrote Sallie Alys Montuori. "I, however, like my widescreen laptop very much, and I WANT MY VERTICAL SPACE BACK!!"