Google looked different this morning (testing)

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 37 seconds

As most of you will know, Google is actively A/B testing a multitude of elements and pages at any given time. So why this blog post you ask, well lately I’ve been seeing quite big changes, including the new logo. I’m not sure if this is just in the UK or if people in different countries have seen this before.

As I noticed this I turned to Google to see if anyone else had looked into exactly what some of these new design features included. But to my surprise there is not a lot of buzz online about this. Apart from a reference about (a version I have not been able to see) it was all very quiet.

Therefore I thought I would share some of the screenshots (taken from Firefox 3.6 on a PC) we have taken in the office, and have a look at some of the changes that are being tested.

A/B testing the Google homepage

At the time of taking these screenshots I managed to get 3 different versions of the Google homepage. The first is the one I see on a day to day basis in minor varieties, the second one is where we start seeing changes and the third includes the new Google logo.

Multivariate Google Search
Fig. 2
New Google Search
Fig. 3

Lets start with the changes in Fig. 2

  1. The first change that you can see is the search input itself, a larger version with a nice drop shaddow, moving away from the out of the box un-styled input we have come to now.
  2. The second major change is the buttons themselves, at first I thought I had used Opera to view the homepage but no chance, we now have styling for the buttons as well.
  3. The font size has been increased to 11 pixels from 10, the colour has changed and the underline has been changed to the hover state.
  4. Again the underline has changed to the hover state and the colour is different.
  5. The copyright and Privacy link again, have been increased in size and the link changed.

And taking the changes pointed out above let’s look at Fig. 3

  1. Of course we have the new logo, a much brighter version.
  2. And in this version they have again reduced the size of the copyright and privacy link

Redesign of the Google Search results

After a homepage change like that, how can we not have a look at what happens when you search? Fig. 4 is the old version and fig. 5 is the new one.

Old Google Seach Results Page
Fig. 4
New Google search results page
Fig. 5

Let’s have a look at Fig. 5 and see what’s new.

  1. Again the new Google logo
  2. The Search is followed through, and here you also have an attached search button on the right. Using slight gradients and borders to give the effect of a 3D button.
  3. The biggest change however is the left hand menu which displays icons for earch of the sections  all the time.
  4. The footer got a complete revamp with the newer oooooooooooo’s and gone is the bar with the light blue background

I did notice that depending on if (1) you are logged into your Google account or not and (2) your Google settings, it displays things more personalised in the left hand menu.

Redesign of the Google Image Search

Now let’s have a look at image search, most changes we have already covered, however; you might like the fact that the images sorting options (previously +Show options) are now located permanently in the left hand side menu.

Old Google Image Search
Fig. 6
New Google Image Search
Fig. 7

Personally I quite like all of the changes I have seen, but I fear too many tests could scare the unsure surfer. Google is to a lot of people “the Internet” and if it does not look the same everytime it might make people nervous. A/B testing is all good and well, but as Douglas Bowman will tell you

I won’t miss a design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data”.

What do you think of the changes Google are A/B testing, good, bad, or you just don’t care?

  1. Peter says:

    That’s a great tip Les, thanks for sharing it with us.

  2. Les says:

    After three weeks of living with the new layout, I still prefer the previous uncluttered version. Perhaps because I’ve been using the web for nearly 15 years I usually know what I need to do to trawl for information.

    As a result, I installed a very neat Firefox plugin that removes the new left hand column. It’s also compatible with Chrome, which I also use from time to time to check my webpage changes. Sorry for IE users, no such luck!

    The plug-in can be found at

  3. Alison Harper says:

    Google always keep changing the homepage. i love this info…!!!

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