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November 2, 2009

Google Tests a Clutter-Free Homepage

Google has been testing a new version of its homepage that hides the navigation links and the search buttons until you move your cursor. The page appears to load faster, it's less cluttered and better suited for searching, but it might confuse some users.

Search Engine Roundtable noticed an experiment that displayed "This space intentionally left blank" below the search box. Most likely, it's an attempt to explain that the page is already loaded.

Google's idea is interesting, but I don't think that it's really necessary to remove the navigational elements from a homepage that's already simple.

Some feedback for Google's help forum:

"The fade in thing is pointless, and I really would like my search buttons back. Yes, I can indeed hit return, but when I'm copying and pasting text into the search box using my mouse, I want to then move my mouse to click a button, and not have to put the mouse down to use the keyboard to hit return before going back to mousing. Small thing but *really* frustrating. Why take the buttons away? Some people like to click them, other people like to hit return, I tend to do both depending on whether I'm copy/pasting with the mouse or typing text in with the keyboard."

"Google's main page will no longer by my default browser homepage if they don't get rid of the fade. I hate it. Half the time I want to go to Gmail, and I have to move the mouse cursor over the window and wait a few seconds before I can click to go to Gmail. This is a loss of functionality in my mind. I love minimalism, but this just makes things worse."

"After considering for a week - I think I like it. The novelty is gone, but the simplicity of the interface ensures that I'm not distracted before I type my search term. I actually often use the box, type my query and press enter without ever moving my mouse. The interface is seamless and does everything I want it to do - getting me to results as quickly as possible. If I do need any other Google feature, they are still available just as quickly (perhaps the fade in on mouse movement should be just a touch faster). I appreciate this might not be a feature for the mainstream - but I would encourage you to at least keep it as an option. It embodies everything that keeps me using Google, simplicity with functionality."

{ The first image is licensed as Creative Commons by Barry Schwartz. }

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