May 16, 2009

The Making of Google's New Search Options

Earlier this week, Google launched what I consider to be the company's next step in personalized search - "search options." Essentially, it is a link searchers can click, which brings up a left-side navigation menu that allows for different ways of searching. 

The following video shows how it works if you have not yet experimented with it for yourself:

Google has now provided a "behind the scenes" look at how they came up with the user experience and design of "search options" that we see today. They tested some options and used eye-tracking and usability studies to aid them along the way.

Google Eye Tracking

"After each study, we iterated on the designs, making changes to everything from the order and behavior of the options, to the location of the panel and the way people opened and closed it," says a post from the User Experience Team. "We also paid close attention to the visual design of the options panel. We wanted it to feel familiar –- not only to work the way you expect from Google, but to look and feel like Google, too. Even though you just started using the panel, we hope it will seem as if it were there all along."

The team provides a look at some samples of designs for "search options" that were considered before settling on the one that is now available:

Search Options Designs

Search Options Designs

People seem to be generally pleased with the "search options" feature. A quick Twitter search to see what people are saying about it brings back comments like "very impressed, "more irrelevant noise filtering," and "Finally! Thank you Google!" I'm sure Google appreciates this positive feedback considering the backlash the company's been receiving with regards to other issues.


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