Google has long been known for its spartan design sensibility. But sometimes, that sensibility errs too much on the "everything in one font size" side of things.
Google corrected that problem this week when it redesigned the homepage of Google Base. The redesign adds a few noteworthy elements, such as icons for upload options and a modified layout. (Compare old versus new.)
Don't take my word for it, though. Elliott Malkin, information architect at the New York Times, told me that "the weight of the page is more distributed. The call to action is [broken] into equal thirds as opposed to the previous design, which featured a prominent, if overpowering, focal point."
The redesign seems intended to help to drive adoption of Google Base, which has always been one of Google's more complicated and confusing products, at least to lay users. If the average user begins to use and understand Google Base, Google will be in a better position to push the service on other platforms, such as mobile devices.
Given Google's recent focus on mobile devices, it wouldn't be surprising to see the company eventually roll out a new interface for mobile phones, complete with wireless payment processing.
Like Jeffrey Veen, product director for Measure Map, which was acquired by Google this year, said in a recent interview: "It doesn't matter how good your design is if it doesn't get used.