Google said June 2 it will soon let users add a photo or image to the background of the Google homepage.
Users will be able to pick existing photos from their PCs, their Picasa Web Albums or a public Picasa gallery.
Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of search products and user experience, offered this example in a blog post:
Notice anything? Yes, it looks like a customized iGoogle page, but without the iGoogle header up top. Check out mine, which uses my current favorite theme:
Just as with the iGoogle homepage, users of the Google customized homepage will be able to click a link to switch back and forth between the personalized homepage and the classic Google homepage, Mayer said.
If the custom Google homepage looks a lot like iGoogle, why do this?
Not every rabid Google searcher has an iGoogle homepage, which offers dozens of themes for users to install with a click.
The search engine wants to let users customize their Google homepages so the user experience isn't so bland and impersonal, but without making users install the iGoogle palette to do so.
What better way to do this than by letting users add their favorite photos? It's not unlike what people do with custom screensavers.
It definitely finds some middle ground. We'll have to see how users respond to this when it begins rolling out in the United States and internationally over the next few days.
Mayer said users can provide feedback by tweeting pictures of their pages with the hashtag #myGooglepage. Indeed, as of the morning of June 3, several users have used this feature to add their photos:
How will you know when you can do this? Mayer said users should see a link in the lower left-hand corner of Google.com to let them do this.
Do you see this yet? What's the personalization process like? Google didn't say ...