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Google Updates Its Face 548

Posted by Hemos
from the so-many-submissions dept.
whereiseljefe writes "About 12:00 am Central Time, at least when I saw it, Google changed it's face. Before it was a simplistic search engine, with a minimal front page, and now has become even more so. Those pretty tabs we have become accustomed to are now gone, and in the search results, the "summary" section at the top is now a faded blue bar (see here with a search returning ads). And the ads are a little more low key. Nice to know they are cutting back on their interface rather than adding spastically like Yahoo." Other folks noted that they've added Froogle and Local Directory pages have now been given links on the front page. Which is good, since inclusion in the main page tends to mean ready for prime time.
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Google Updates Its Face

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  • About Face! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dolo666 (195584) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:45AM (#8702312) Journal
    Google has a very smart team, a team who understand their market and cater to their every need. What I think is the best feature of Google is that they cater to their end-user, not their financial backers. To Google, it's important to please searchers, more so than advertisers. That makes me warm and fuzzy.

    I would also point out, being a programmer myself, that reducing the bandwidth in each search is a positive goal for Google in cost reduction, and a positive side-effect to the reduction, is a much faster searching experience. Every bit counts when you have the traffic Google does.

    Put them together and you have a winning team, with a winning service, and profit will ensue.

    Sorry for sounding like a fan-boy, but I just can't say anything bad about Google, except maybe that the name Google is becoming annoying/overused [slashdot.org], much like the over-play curse afforded to successful musicians.
  • by MrRTFM (740877) * on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:46AM (#8702322) Journal
    When they first bought in the Beta it didn't look too impressive to me (not being in the US), but it works pretty well and has a hell of a lot more shops.

    Despite how much I hate advertising, when I actually *want* to see adverts about a product, it is hard to find.
  • Meanwhile... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:47AM (#8702326)
    Slashdot looks EXACTLY the same as it did when it first started 6 years ago.

    The same godawful color schemes, ugly nexted tables, awful HTML code, etc.

    Maybe slashdot should take a cue from google and update themselves.

  • Good! (Score:5, Funny)

    by bfg9000 (726447) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:47AM (#8702328) Homepage Journal
    It's good to see that it's not just me. I thought it was time to reformat Windows again.
  • Very minimalist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:47AM (#8702331) Homepage Journal
    A great example of, "less is more". No, not pagers.
  • Puhhh (Score:3, Funny)

    by pytsun (765818) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:48AM (#8702340)
    Thank God - not another facial gone wrong.
    • Re:Puhhh (Score:5, Funny)

      by zulux (112259) on Monday March 29, 2004 @11:47AM (#8703586) Homepage Journal
      Thank God - not another facial gone wrong.

      You know you've been at the pr0n too much when your think what I was just thinkings.

      The worst was when my fiance went to the spa, came back, ans said "I had a great facial. My face smells great!".

      Did a double-take on that one...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:49AM (#8702351)
    The new google lacks kaw-pow, pizazz! It doesn't reach out and grab you and scream in your face - read this X-TREME web page!

    Look, this is 2004, and "understated" is synonymous with "loser". If you want to put the mazuma in da bank, baby, you gotta POP, SIZZLE!

    And I know what I'm talking about - I'm a marketing exec in a Fortune 500.
  • high key ads (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Underholdning (758194) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:50AM (#8702353) Homepage Journal
    "And the ads are a little more low key" . Really? I find them more intrusive than before, because they look like the search result, and thusly my eyes tend to catch them more than before. And I'm pretty sure that's the idea.
  • I like it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrIrwin (761231) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:50AM (#8702356) Journal
    There had been a lot of talk about Google perhaps becoming like other ad laden portals, but as ever Google have come up trumps.

    I particularly like the idea of seperating "Froogle", I hope in the long term this will bias commercial support away from the generic pages. When I want to know about Hawaii "per se" I am just not interest in tour operators and hotels!

  • Definition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nomihn0 (739701) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:51AM (#8702363)
    The (definition) feature next to your search query does something I've sought for a long time - it searches dictionary.com. The built in "Define:search query" never worked well for me, so this is a pleasent surprise.
  • Google Web Alerts (Score:5, Informative)

    by manmanic (662850) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:52AM (#8702375)
    Google also announced their web alerts [google.com] at the same time. Looks interesting, but not as feature complete as Google Alert [googlealert.com] which has been around for some time.
  • Fatal Error (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptainBaz (621098) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:53AM (#8702381) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately, it still doesn't validate [w3.org]!
    • Re:Fatal Error (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tlianza (454820) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:01AM (#8702454) Homepage
      That's kind of funny... I guess it doesn't pay to write "proper" (X)HTML.

      I wonder if they skipped the doctype tag because it's relatively pointless for this level of basic HTML, and wasn't worth the bandwith demands to include it.
      • Re:Fatal Error (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:12AM (#8702542)

        I guess it doesn't pay to write "proper" (X)HTML.

        It does, but I guess Google are in the very exclusive club of "big enough to warrant all major browsers ensuring that they work with that website".

        I wonder if they skipped the doctype tag because it's relatively pointless for this level of basic HTML

        The doctype declaration (it's not a tag) indicates that the document conforms to a certain specification. Google not complying with any known HTML specification, it's arguably the correct thing to do to leave it off. Leaving it off means that browsers go into "quirks mode", whereby they deviate from the HTML and CSS specifications in an attempt to work around author mistakes.

        and wasn't worth the bandwith demands to include it.

        If Google were worried about bandwidth, they'd get rid of cruft like bgcolor=#ffffff and move the CSS into an external stylesheet. Assuming they employ front-end coders that know what they are doing of course (just because they are clueful on the back-end, it doesn't mean they are clueful on the front-end).

        • Re:Fatal Error (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hooverbag (698019) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:25AM (#8702630)
          If Google were worried about bandwidth, they'd get rid of cruft like bgcolor=#ffffff and move the CSS into an external stylesheet.

          It may be that using the extra bandwidth is faster or more efficient than the extra http request for the external stylesheet.
          • Re:Fatal Error (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:27AM (#8702649)

            It may be that using the extra bandwidth is faster or more efficient than the extra http request for the external stylesheet.

            That's extremely doubtful. In almost all cases, the stylesheet will not come from Google's servers. They are a popular website and the stylesheet rarely changes, so the chances of it being in somebody's browser cache are high, the chances of it being in their ISP's cache is high, the chance of it being in neither is extremely low.

          • Re:Fatal Error (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Lehk228 (705449) on Monday March 29, 2004 @11:32AM (#8703402) Journal
            Right off the bat without much customization they could shrink their logo by 7% by going to PNG instead of GIF using the exact same palette, drop it down to a 115 color pallete (almost unchanged visually, slight granularity added to shadow) and i can cut the file by 40%
  • I don't like it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trikenstein (571493) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:54AM (#8702388)
    No change to functionality that I can see.

    All they did was change the layout.

    With the old layout I could navigate the page blindfolded.
    I had mouse movements down pat.
    The tabs being close to the first search result was handy.
    Now you have to navigate to the very top, center of the page.

    I've never seen a reason to change an interface, just to change it.

    • Re:I don't like it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TwistedGreen (80055) <twistedgreen@g m a i l . com> on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:05AM (#8702490)
      But they changed more than the interface.

      Doing a quick test search, I've noticed that it's so much more responsive. They did tweake the interface, but they also optimized download time. Think of how many searches are done every minute. Even a small size reduction can quickly add up!
    • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lxy (80823)
      They've added links to get easier access to their other stuff like Google labs, catalog searches, etc. I miss the tabs, but access to Google features are several mouse clicks closer now.

      I think taking away the pretty tabs was a step backwards, but it's nice to see that they've made the site easier to navigate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:54AM (#8702392)
    The new look may be simpler but the old one had familiarity going for it.

    Now that MS and Yahoo are picking up the pace and investing heavily against Google to outcompete it, is this really the time to change Google's look? Search functionality may be all that matters to a geek, but Google is mainstream now and has to worry about mainstream concerns, like "Branding". Google's old look was part of the Google "brand".

    I may come off like Chicken Little given that this is such a small thing to be concerned about, but sometimes in the face of heavy competition the smallest things can turn the tide. I've seen it happen.
    • by Chordonblue (585047) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:35AM (#8702721) Homepage Journal
      ...Google goes public. That's when it will most likely jump the shark - just like most other high-flying tech companies forced to keep up that unrealistic opening stock price.

      I predict you'll see them charging for more inclusive searches and trying to gouge their advertisers for more revenue.

      Don't get me wrong, I hope I'm not right, but there's a long track record of others who have gone this way before. Google is smart, investors aren't.

  • time will tell... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Haha (753617) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:56AM (#8702401) Homepage
    I will admit removing the little bits of excess are nice, but I actually liked the tabs, and used them alot (for images/news in particular) and liked them being under the search bar as my mouse would have been closer to that...

    Anyways time will tell how this goes... On the flip side this is one site that can handle the /. effect so we can all at least have an equal chance to troll about our opinions...
  • by Raven42rac (448205) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:56AM (#8702405)
    This has been around for a while. It was completely random for a while (for testing one would assume). I used to have a bookmark that would toggle the look back and forth, but I seem to have misplaced it.
  • by cdrudge (68377) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:57AM (#8702418) Homepage
    I noticed the new interface just before this story was posted. I don't really like it. I much prefered the old "tabbed" interface. While the newer interface is minimalistic, it almost looks amaturish.

    For instance, Google groups search result pages looks like they are formatted for a 800x600 resolution screen. Viewing it at a higher resolution forces a large white space between the search listings and the ads. I would have much prefered for the results to take up this space, fitting more results on the page at a time. If the group name is long, then the "View Thread" becomes unnatural looking wrapped between two lines. (example [google.com])

    Maybe it's just new, but hopefully it'll grow on me.
  • Wrong page brother. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chess_the_cat (653159) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:57AM (#8702419) Homepage
    Nice to know they are cutting back on their interface rather than adding spastically like Yahoo.

    You're thinking of Yahoo! the web portal. Yahoo!'s search engine page [yahoo.com] looks pretty plain to me. They haven't added anything to it.

  • Mirror (Score:5, Funny)

    by CleverNickedName (644160) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:58AM (#8702431) Journal
    In case of Slashdotting, here [216.239.51.104] is the Google cache.
  • by stonebeat.org (562495) on Monday March 29, 2004 @09:59AM (#8702435) Homepage
    If you guys use Google's adsense, you might have noticed that have lot of new themes as well. I guess, to make the Ads blend in more with your webpages, and make them lowkey.

    P.S. Google Adsense is Ad banner engine, using which you can add Ads on your website and generate some ca$h
  • by Pete (big-pete) (253496) * <peter_endean@hotmail.com> on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:04AM (#8702481)

    I find it interesting to see the slight variations of Google...geeky although it might seem - when I type http://www.google.com/ [google.com] I am thrown to http://www.google.be/ [google.be], so when I really want http://www.google.com/ [google.com] I type http://www.google.com./ [www.google.com] instead of using the "Go to Google.com" button (which sends me to the google.com page with a "Go to Google Belgium" button.

    The definitive address with the dot at the end introduces itself as Google English in the graphic, but still has a "Go to Google.com" button, whilst clearly being the genuine definitive http://www.google.com./ [www.google.com]...but this version doesn't have the link to Froogle [google.com]... :)

    Phew - that's enough links to Google for one day!

    -- Pete.

  • Lynx (Score:5, Informative)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:05AM (#8702487) Homepage Journal
    What's curious, it looks in Lynx almost the same as in Mozilla!

    Say what you want, I like it!
  • by capncook (115312) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:05AM (#8702491) Homepage
    The Google interface is available in many languages [google.com], including H4x0r! [google.com]
  • I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Saint Stephen (19450) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:06AM (#8702501) Homepage Journal
    (1) The boxes made different length strings "web", "groups", "news" take up equal space. Now "web", the most important, has the smallest amount of space. It's the hardest to "hit".

    (2) I don't want Froogle on every page. I don't go to Google to shop. It's okay in the "More".

    Google begins to go the way of all search engines:
    not a single one has not faded away yet. If this one isn't eventually replaced by another, it will be the first.
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:08AM (#8702513) Homepage Journal
    here [google.com], however, I suspect this may have leaked out 3 days too early.
  • by mikesmind (689651) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:08AM (#8702516) Homepage
    I like simple interfaces. While I use Firefox for most of my browsing, I also like Dillo a lot. The new Google interface reminds of how many websites come up in Dillo. While Dillo lacks many features, (that other browsers include by default) this is done by design. It is supposed to be very lightweight and for many browsing tasks, Dillo works just fine. It's good to see that Google is going for less clutter and overhead, while so many others are charging in the other direction.
  • by Claws Of Doom (721684) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:09AM (#8702522)
    I have google set to appear in Welsh by default, and that frontpage has not changed. It is only the english/standard frontpage that has changed as far as I can see.

    I see the translation teams have some work to do...
  • Uh, no... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alphapartic1e (260735) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:15AM (#8702567)
    I, for one, don't like the new Google interface.
    <rant>

    The front page will take a bit getting used to (now w/o the tabs) (see: Google cache of Google [64.233.167.104]). OK, so it's really not that big a deal, we'll get used to the new version where the "tab" links are more squished together (note to Google: there's all that whitespace between the links waiting to be liberated!).

    The real kicker is the new search results pages. Instead of utilizing most of the page as before for the actual results, and using B/W text for explanations, now they are highlighted by this ugly MSN/Yahoo-like pale-blue/green combo, which, (*GASP*) looks oh-so-similar to the text ads that are taking almost 1/3 of the page on the right. (see example: new search page [google.com].)

    </rant>
    Well, I guess I'm not in the position to criticize a free, powerful service. But I guess if they are going to keep it free, they might as well try to keep the user experience as nice as possible. I'll still be using Google just as much as before, but I guess I'll be nostalgically longing for the good ol' days^H^H^H^H, uh, I mean 6 hours ago.

    - Alpha out.

  • by profet (263203) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:20AM (#8702600)
    Go to google's main page [google.com] and type the following into the search box:

    miserable failure

    Now hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.

    Gotta love google.
  • Linux Searches? (Score:3, Informative)

    by cyranoVR (518628) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <RVonaryc>> on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:22AM (#8702620) Homepage Journal
    Dang...I knew about Google's Linux-targeted [google.com] searches but I never remember to use it when I'm having having installation/upgrade issues [google.com].

    Definitely going to bookmark that one...Google has saved my butt many-a-time during while learning Linux (but I've had to wade through a lot of irrelvant search results to get to what I needed).
  • Fake hits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MagerValp (246718) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:26AM (#8702637) Homepage
    A new design is nice and all, but what are they doing to combat the link networks that artificially inflate their own pagerank scores? For some searches you just get pages and pages of hits from "directory" sites that you've never heard of (that no one in their right mind would ever be interested in using) serving you banners and popups.
  • by Hard_Code (49548) on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:44AM (#8702794)
    This is a good step forward but still does not go far enough. We must erase this "user interface" tyranny. First of all - the title - i mean, gosh, it says "Google" in my browser title bar, in clear letters. Such gratuitous self-advertising is unnecessary and garish if you ask me. Please leave the title bar alone. Also, why is there so much busy text on the page. I'm a busy man, I can't be bothered to read all that. I count over 25 words on the front page alone! That adds up to countless more letters. And that is not even counting source code. I'm bewildered and confused. Also, they decieve the user by providing, two, TWO COUNT THEM, buttons to search. One says redundantly "Google Search" the other poses the existential statement "I'm Feeling Lucky". Now I appreciate free psychological therapy like the next person, but PLEASE Google, leave that up to the experts on daytime shows like Dr. Phil. Now I am left pondering whether I really feel lucky or not, or whether I only am doubting my luck because I am being presented with a challenge towards it, whether this is all my parent's fault, and ultimately feeling that I need not search the web, but rather within myself to find out who I truly am.

    But Google not only presents these "submission" buttons, but a range of categories to manifest my self doubt. Images: Is there something wrong with my own self image? Groups: Am I accepted as a member of a group. News: Does anything interesting or newsworthey ever happen in my life? Froogle: Am I managing my finances appropriately, or will I squander my fate through illiteracy or bad spelling? More>>: Is there something missing in my hollow pointless life...do I need something more to fill the void?

    And as a last kick in the teeth, Google must remind me at the bottom that the page is copyrighted, and that it is "Searching 4,285,199,774 web pages", as if to say "you are not good enough to receive this page".

    So, please stop the user interface terrorism Google!
  • directories (Score:3, Informative)

    by VanillaCoke420 (662576) <vanillacoke420@ho t m a i l . c om> on Monday March 29, 2004 @10:46AM (#8702808)
    The link to the directories should've been left on the first page.
  • by pen (7191) on Monday March 29, 2004 @11:03AM (#8703049)
    Google is now tracking your clicks with a javascript event that loads a hidden image. Take a look. At the top of the page, we have this function:

    function clk(n,el) {if(document.images){(new Image()).src=/url?sa=T&start=+n+&url=+escape(el.hr ef);}return true;}
    Then, each results link looks like this:
    <a href=http://digdug.cx/ onmousedown=return clk(1,this)>
    The strange thing is this: When I tried the same page at work, it didn't have the tracking script. But when I VNCed home and tried it again -- it still did.

    I saved a copy of the page at the following URL: http://www.phrise.com/google.html [phrise.com] (I added <base href=http://www.google.com/> at the top.)

    If you're seeing the same thing, please reply...

  • by magnus.ihse (41120) on Monday March 29, 2004 @11:50AM (#8703616) Homepage
    This is not just a change in look and feel. Google has also removed functionality. Previously, web searches was matched against Google Directory (dmoz). The result was presented in two ways:
    1. If your search matched a category, it was displayed at the top.
    2. If a particular hit matched a site in the directory, the category for this site was shown above the "URL - cached" line of the hit.
    The old behaviour can still be seen when using an odd language setting (like Swedish chef). See for instance this search for "java":
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=xx-bork&q=java [google.com] and compare it with the new google interface:
    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=java [google.com]

    I think this is a sad loss of functionality. The link to directory categories served two purposes for me: First, it was some kind of extra "quality" check -- if a web site was listed in the directory, it was more likely to be the site I was looking for. Second, it informed me in a non-intrusive way that a directory category existed that'd probably help me in my search.

    And to add insult to injury, Google has removed the simple link to Directory from the "tabs", so you have to first click "More>>" to find the Directory search, making it even hard to use it. I wonder if this is the first step in stopping to support the dmoz directory?

  • by gr (4059) on Monday March 29, 2004 @11:55AM (#8703678) Journal
    It popped up randomly [livejournal.com] based on a randomly set cookie [blogspace.com]. You could also switch it on manually in preferences for maybe about a month now.
  • by Vexware (720793) on Monday March 29, 2004 @12:30PM (#8704114) Homepage

    This is a sad day for the Internet: Google has truely shot itself in the foot. Where are the big banner ads? the pop-ups? Where are the unrelated search results, obfuscated by even more unrelated "sponsored" search "results"? And why is it useful? It's the sad truth, but alas Google is living in the past, instead of looking to the future. (- Insert obligotary "BSD is dead" parody here -)

    Seriously though, wandering around on ZDNet [zdnet.com], I found that Google has launched a personalized search engine [google.com]. I tried it out, and I'll tell you what -- it kicks major ass. Let's say you are trying to look up information for a particular or specialized search term on the traditional Google, it may give you some random unrelated results, those of another domain you wish to consult about; on Google Personalized Search, you specify which domain you want to search about and it will provide you with more pertinent results. Kudos to Google, once again.

  • by Le Marteau (206396) on Monday March 29, 2004 @12:50PM (#8704317) Journal
    Google can change the most minute detail of their page, and the world notices, because their page is so minimal. Yahoo, on the other hand, with their excessivly cluttered home page, could put the goatse guy on their page and half the visitors wouldn't even notice.
  • by srcosmo (73503) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nortagemartlu)> on Monday March 29, 2004 @01:58PM (#8705127) Journal
    When playstation [google.com] shows up as the #1 search next month, everyone at the Google Zeitgeist [google.com] will be confused.

    But not me.

Their idea of an offer you can't refuse is an offer... and you'd better not refuse.

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