Google Stops Nudging People Toward Custom Homepage

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-06-10 Print this article Print

Google June 9 began trying to nudge its users to install photos as backgrounds for their Google homepages by featuring popular images on for 24 hours.

Users were so annoyed, Google turned off by the custom homepage, which tells you how the service is being received from the start.

Marissa Mayer, VP of search products and user experience at Google, attributed the early pull to a bug, not user complaints.

I covered the original move, an homage to Bing's more colorful backgrounds, June 3.

At the time, Google invited users to pick existing photos from their PCs, their Picasa Web Albums or a public Picasa gallery, and click a button to install them as the backdrop on their classic Google homepages.

This is separate from users' iGoogle personalized homepages, where users install whatever widgets are available to them. Basically, the custom homepage lets users jazz up what is normally a bland, white classic homepage.

Users can still add their own photos from their desktop or Picasa, but Google has also assembled a gallery of art work from well-known artists, sculptors and photographers for users and rotated those images throughout the day.

For example, I clicked over to the classic homepage this a.m. and saw:

Background google.png

I then wondered how to change the image, so I clicked "remove background image" in the lower left-hand corner and was treated to new art:


Then I clicked the "add your own background image" button under the search box, and this option bubbled up:


Super easy! Will people use this option? Maybe, but it's not going to bring more users to Google. So what's the point beyond some gleaming, new aesthetics? Is it worth it?

Given the choice between looking bland or being accused of ripping off a weaker search rival in Bing, I'd take bland any day.

That's why Google rakes in the big bucks to make such decisions for its millions of users. |

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