Google Takes Big Step Toward Search Clutter

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-05-08 Print this article Print

5. Google isn't Yahoo

Whenever I've used Yahoo search, I've turned away almost immediately because of how cluttered is. Google was never like that. I could surf to the company's homepage, input a query into the search box that was sitting on an almost blank page and scroll through results without being distracted by anything else. Those days are over. When users realize that that simplicity is gone and their attention is being drawn to other tools in the left sidebar, they might not like it. Clutter is not Google's strong suit.

6. The click-heavy search

Google has made its search tool potentially more click-heavy than it was in the past. For example, users can search for Bruce Springsteen in Google and find the same results they found before in the "Everything" tab. But if they start looking for images, blogs or videos, they might find themselves clicking several parameters to get what they want. Once again, that will iron itself out over time as users get used to it, and most of those options were available before the new design, but they're being brought to the fore now. And average or novice Web users might feel overwhelmed by all the options they're now given right out of the box.

7. It stinks of fear

Although the novice user won't care, advanced Web users who understand the battle that Google is currently waging against Microsoft might not like the new design. Although Google would never admit it, the revamped design seems like it was born out of fear, rather than necessity. Google is a capable company that can come up with the best and brightest ideas in any market. But it's as if the company opted against that and instead decided to cut Bing off at the pass by mimicking its design in some areas. It was a defensive move by Google out of fear that Microsoft's search engine could become a threat. And defensive moves aren't something we see from Google too often.

8. The backlash always happens

Whenever a company releases a revamped design of a popular product, it can expect some backlash. Users get comfortable with the look and feel of a product, and when it changes, they speak out against it for fear of not being as productive as they once were. Remember Facebook's troubles? The social network revamped its design and within minutes, a group was created to protest it. Over time, the outcry died down, but it was vicious while it lasted. Google will likely be forced to deal with similar backlash over this design.

9. Search is about the results

Google has shown that search is all about providing the best results users can find. Luckily, the company didn't mess with its results when it revamped its design. But it made it clear that its focus is no longer solely on the quality of its results. Now, the company plans to make its search service as visually appealing as some of the competition's offerings. To some extent, I understand the logic. Google wants to be at the top of every facet of search and design is one of those facets. At the same time, it has been successful without having the most beautiful search engine. The last thing the company would want to do now is lose sight of search results. But some might feel that it has.

10. Google could be falling into the sticky trap

Google's success can be partially attributed to its realization that it doesn't need to be "sticky" to be successful. The company wants users to go to and get to their destinations as quickly as possible, spending little time on its servers. But by making its many other search options so prominent, Google might be falling into the "sticky" trap that so many other Web companies have. Rather than get users out of the site, the new design seems to invite users to stay on Google's servers and click around until they find what they're looking for. That might make Google's ad team happy, but users might not like it.

Simplicity reigns supreme in the search market. And Google's new design has in many ways turned its back on simplicity in search of competitive advantages. That's unfortunate.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel