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December 2, 2009

Google's Homepage Goes Back to Basics

Google has been testing a new version of its homepage that hides the navigational elements until you use the mouse. Most people visit Google's homepage to search the Web, so the links to other Google services are distracting. After testing 10 variants of the new homepage, including an interface that removed the buttons, Google decided to keep the search buttons and to use a subtle fade-in effect before displaying the links.

"Internally, a large number of Google employees have been using the new homepage. They have come to really like it — it represents our focus on great search yet helps searchers efficiently access all of Google's products. Like the new supersized search box we launched several months ago, this change is one that is very noticeable at first, and then quickly becomes second nature," explains Google's blog.



I rarely go to Google's homepage to search the Web, since browsers include a search box and I don't have to load a new web page to enter a query. The latest UI changes will make me visit Google's homepage more often: the search box is bigger, the search results are loaded without opening a new page using Ajax and the new clutter-free interface helps you concentrate.

59 comments:

  1. Pretty poor design IMO. From what I've seen, the links fade in whenever you move the mouse cursor over the page, which happens very frequently.
    I think that the people who might have been "distracted" by those links will be even more distracted by them appearing from nowhere.

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  2. Having a spartan look is what seems to be the central focus of Google, as exclaimed. I believe its good for the people to have a straight forward, 'to the point' Google Homepage, which instantaneously reflects the purpose of the company - SIMPLE & POWERFUL.
    Though I do agree that the 'fading effect' does take away a bit of concentration and that the 'trigger' of this fade is an inevitable movement of the mouse, which is completely unavoidable, and hence decreases the time I can spend with the beautiful, stripped down page.

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  3. I personally can't stand this stupid fade in effect. I'm switching to bing until whenever google decides to undo this change.

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  4. Switching to bing because of this? Lol.

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  5. I don't blame him for switching to bing. This fade idea SUCKS!

    So basically, if you want to access Gmail, Documents, Maps, etc. you have to move your mouse, wait for the fade effect, and then scan the page for the links you need to access. Pretty lame.

    It's also very stupid on their behalf, since Google is always trying to expand into new services. I often know about there new services by little announcements on the bottom of the search buttons, like the "New! Discover Music using Google" links. How can I learn of new products and services if I DON'T SEE IT?

    This is an epic fail on Google's part, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who truly detests this decision: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Web+Search/thread?tid=70ca8ab28e3df1ae&hl=en

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  6. I hate bing. It's cluttered and... I don't know if I'm allowed to swear in this forum xD

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  7. I often use the Google home page as an entry point to Google's services, like news or Gmail. Not be able to see them makes me feel that something is missing, please get rid of it or allow users to opt out this “feature”. I also hate the jagged edges of the characters after the fade in.

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  8. I agree. This fade in thing sucks. It seems slow, and it just slows me down. Google take it back to the original!

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  9. I hate this, and hate it even more after watching my wife do the following yesterday:
    1. google + control-enter, to go to www.google.com
    2. wait for the fade in to occur
    3. click the "Gmail" link

    Google, the company, is so much more than a search box. If they did this on search.google.com, I'd get it, but on the company's homepage it's just a bad idea.

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  10. i love the fade! keep the fade!

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  11. I hate it too. I always have a google home page as the first tab in my browser. I use it as entry point to services like gmail, news, scholar, reader (in fact I wish I didn't have to use the pull down menu for the last two and I wish I could customize the list).

    As for the clutter free look, I think this fade in effect adds no value. It is quite rare that one would not move the mouse after going to google, which means the page is clutter free for only a few milliseconds. The fade in only distracts people. And I don't think the original menu options were distracting in any way.

    P

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  12. I am not a fan of the "fade". I was able to stop it for about a month by clearing my cache but it appears that the change was made permanent. :( I use google as my homepage to nav to my gmail and reader and I like getting there fast.
    ~cate

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  13. Its not apppearing in google.com only google.com.XX, being xx the country

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  14. Goddamn I hate this fade thing. Hate it so much I'm in borderline Bing mode soon.

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  15. It is totally useless, first thing I want to do is access google mail NOT web search, so why is google forcing this on us. Getting as bad a microsoft used to be!

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  16. I as well hate waiting for the fade in: The google main page is a portal of sorts for me for different google pages: maps, images, news, gmail etc. waiting 1.5 seconds or so for the fade utterly serves no purpose.

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  17. Hate the fade in! I go to Google home page to surf the net -AND- to access GMAIL.
    I will now have to set up a separate bookmark for my GMAIL, because I HATE WAITING!

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  18. Also, why was this change not announced on the Google homepage itself? I had to do search to find out why things had slowed down. Not appreciating the lack of communication on Google's part.

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  19. It sucks a great deal. Unfortunately, this is part of a trend in GUI design - shiny special effects that slow you down because you end up waiting for resize/fade in/fade out effects to finish animating before you can perform your next task. Windows Vista (by default) is unusuable because of this, and the same goes for compiz.

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  20. i`ll sell my google stocks...

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  21. 99.9% of internet users are dumb waiting that something happen in their dumb life... of course i'm in the 0.10% that move the mouse or use the tab key to click! Instead of siting your ass home waiting and complaining a little fade effect, go work and pay yourself a fast internet connect and a brand new PC, you'll see your Java loading quickly... You can also re-install your PC with a resources friendly OS like Linux..

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  22. google just keep it plain, the fade BS is for nemrods.IT SUCKS

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  23. Massively hate the fade in. Have never questioned having google as my home page before now. It's rare I'd google about google sucking.

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  24. Well I'm just relieved to have found this website/page because for the past few days I've been thinking that this inane fade effect must be caused by spyware or some problem with the registry.I only came accross this site after typing "google homepage slow to load december 2009" into google search; anything briefer and all you get are links to historic problems from 2006 etc. As mentioned by CatsRule, the lack of information about this on Google's homepage is a disgrace.If Google consider this annoying change to be such an improvement why the secrecy?

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  25. I've grown to HATE the Google fade too! I use a lot of the Google services, Docs, Calendar, Reader, News, and Gmail, so I'm always going to the upper left of the Google homepage for the links. I understand that there is a Google search bar in almost all current browsers, but I have my homepage set to the Google page because of the links at the top. Google should allow us to opt-out of this stop fade "feature".

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  26. dont like it at all. first thing i thought is that something is wrong with my computer and loads the page slower.. the best is to (as someone said before) let the user chooze if he want to use this effect or not.. if it was only some people,i would say it's just a few of us.But i see that most of the google users dont like the fade in at all!!

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  27. I hate the fade thing too, it really does slow me down. They may feel it's not so long of a delay, but for a fast super-user (which I consider myself to be) it's really really irritating, and it makes me really curse Google each and every time I experience it. Why would they want to slow down the very users that use them the most often? Not cool.

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  28. Not a good idea for Google to implement a change like this without giving us some kind of notice. I thought there was something wrong with the browser or worse my computer which was preventing their homepage from loading completely. Then I discovered that moving the mouse made it finish loading. Googling the problem (ironic) brought me to this website where I found the explanation for the fading. Now that I know what's going on I can live with it but there must be a lot of confused Googlers out there.

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  29. I love the nice clean look it.

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  30. Fade sucks. I use google as my home page to get to email. Fade is distracting and wastes time.

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  31. I really hate the new homepage. 95% of the time I go to the google homepage is for going to gmail or going to google news. I hate having to wait for these links to show up. It's very annoying to have to move the mouse around to get these to show up. PLEASE change it back!!!!

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  32. Some like it, some don't. Some, like myself, absolutly hate it. At least give me the option of turning it off.

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  33. Googles home page is even MORE clutter free? That search page cant get much more clutter free. I doubt your concentration problem is because of six little blue words at the top left of your screen.

    I've never been impressed with Googles user interface/experience. All of Google's pages look worse then AOL from the early 90's.

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  34. Stop the stupid bleeping fade in. It is so bleeing annoying.... Hate Google more than Microsoft now.

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  35. How about giving an option to turn the bleeping fade in off? Is Google becoming stupid too???? Forcing features that most hate!

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  36. Hate the fade! It's annoying and redundant. It's a flashy waste of time. Kind of like an enter page. Google employee's must be bored out of their minds to come up with this crap not to mention that they seem to be checking their IQ's at the main entrance! C'mon Google..........It's terds like this thats causing you to fall behind!

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  37. Please get rid of the fade. When it happens, it seems your internet connection is slow or failing. Anyway, even with those links up in the page, the Google homepage is clean and does not distract. Even worse, the fade is distracting and slows me down when going to Google Maps,Images,etc

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  38. Ditto on disliking the fade... it's a purely aesthetic decision and a waste of end-user's time. I could understand if those navigation buttons were useless, but they aren't. I put up with it for a while, then started searching for ways to disable it, hence landing here.

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  39. The Fade effect is crap its very anoying get rid of it!

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  40. The first time I saw Google fade was coincidently right after updating my browser. I assumed there must be something wrong with the update, or that it was sucking too much memory to load properly.

    I don't like the fade either because it doesn't seem to serve any valuable purpose, except to confuse, distract and annoy the Google user.

    What were Google developers thinking???

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  41. don't like it. i have my whole search term typed in before the words appear in the search box.
    Firefox 3.0.12 on RHLinux

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  42. Hate it. It serves no purpose other than to slow users down who regularly go to Google's main page and then click "News", "Gmail", etc.

    If Google really believes users like this change, let them put a survey button on the main page. [Hate It / Don't Care / Love It]

    My guess is they'd rather think they know what we want than actually find out for sure and admit they were wrong. Even though the success of the company is BASED on a quick and simple interface.

    It's hilarious that they stand to loose so many users over such a silly decision.

    "Hey, I know what would really be a great idea. Let's slow down how quick our links show up on the main page!"

    We all know people love staring at a spot where a link should be and waiting for it to show up...

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  43. I hate it too much
    Why not poll users opinions

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  44. The fade effect is retarded.

    Flash and Javascript type effects are overused.

    Yahoo Answers does this too, and it's so stupid and annoying.

    Dipshnt GroupThink Busybody Know-Nothing Managerial Types

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  45. Could not agree more with what almost everyone else has said in these posts! The fade concept is idiotic. The notion that a typical user wants to wait while useful links "fade" in after some sort of prompt is absolutely ridiculous. Like others, I also thought I might be having an issue with my browser or computer, until it became apparent that everything else was loading normally. Give us the option of turning this stupid feature off, you REALLY dropped the ball on this one. By the way, like many people I know, I have changed my home page.

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  46. I like the comment someone else suggested - to use http:// www.google.com/firefox as your google search link - which I am now doing. Basic and fast.

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  47. I hate this clutter. You want me to use your other products? Great, make them show up in your search results, don't whack me over the head with them in true microsoft style.

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  48. My default search was Google but it always gave results in google.com.xx -- xx some country.


    I hated this. I have to always go to google english and then repeat the search.

    I have shifted to bing.

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  49. Since google had create this stupid fade effect, it has always coming down in my consideration. Fame made them be like microsoft:
    -Google Earth has memory problems, and it's not so functional;
    -Google Translate is worst than me searching in a dictionary;
    -Google Ads bans people just for fun, and keeps the cash for them;
    -Google Wave stinks;
    -Google Mail looses e-mails;
    -Google Update is the worst updater ever;
    -...
    -And Google Search has this awful effect.

    So, I changed to Yahoo, and it's very nice :)

    SAPG

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  50. This is part of what google officially said about it. They actually WANT people to be annoyed and slowed down:

    "However, in the end, the variant of the homepage we are launching today was positive or neutral on all key metrics, except one: time to first action. At first, this worried us a bit: Google is all about getting you where you are going faster — how could we launch something that potentially slowed users down? Then, we realized: we want users to notice this change... and it does take time to notice something (though in this case, only milliseconds!). Our goal then became to understand whether or not over time the users began to use the homepage even more efficiently than the control group and, sure enough, that was the trend we observed."

    And yes, people WILL use their homepage more efficiently because of this schoolboy error by google - they will either use another search engine, disable adverts, put all kinds of crappy scripts on their page, use the firefox google homepage instead - this is certainly going to make them use a more efficient way indeed - anything that's more efficient than wiggling your mouse in annoyance trying to get the bloody news link up on this stupid homepage by google.

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  51. Why deal with Google?

    Just go to: search.yahoo.com

    There you'll find a clean interface that is very similar, but without the ghost effect. I've started using it exclusively, because Google should realize that stupid effects like these will turn people away.

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  52. Like many users, I dislike this fade-in business. The reason, is that I am getting mighty fed up with the user interfaces changing all the time. Why does everything have to change all the time ? It was just fine before.

    In addition, I cant stand Google Suggest. I wish that it was off by default.

    I realize that Im old fashioned, but I do have an attention span greater than that of a 2 year old, and dont need for things to change all the time in order to be useful and interesting.

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  53. Hey there, its me again.... I have an idea that should please everyone.

    The Google programmers could make the Google Home Page, so that you could customize it using skins. Not all the skins would support all the features.

    For me, the skin I want is something basic....no suggest, no hover buttons and no Java applets that thrash my hard disk. And no moving images.

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  54. I intesely dislike google fade. I really dislike the way google changes things, and rams "their new and innovative concepts" down the throats of users. Often (almost always) we cant turn these things off.

    At work, I continually need to enter my search settings. This is getting real tiring. I dont like my search history popping up when I enter the search bar. So far, I have had to disable the recording of history to stop this. What I really want, is to record history but not display it when I enter the search box.

    Apparently, this is too much for the people at google to understand.

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  55. How do I go back to the basic version og Google? It messes up my games on FaceBook an now it's sync and can't go back to my E-mail. I have to sigh in to Google b/c it's sync. I'm unable to switch back to my E-mail b/c it says sign into chrome?

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  56. I really don't know,,, but mine say I have to get a new one;; I hope it might help I don't know for sure,,,
    I get the same thing and they did before because I'm used to it;;;

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