Nov 20, 2009

Google Testing a Revamp of the Search Results Page

Google is testing a new user interface for its search options feature. If you are unfamiliar with the search options feature, it is the link on your search results page that says "show options" and brings up a menu on the left-hand side of the screen providing a number of ways to filter your results.
According to Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, a "small number" of Google users will see the new interface starting today. The aim of the new interface is to provide users with a cleaner display. Sullivan says that if the testing goes well, Google may roll it out after the New Year. He quotes Google's Marissa Mayer as saying, "We're basically looking at a new look and feel for Google. It's an overall cleaning up of the search engine results page.

Images of this new look and feel look strangely familiar - similar to that of a certain "decision engine." Take a look:

Of course, the Google's search options and Bing have been compared in the past (and other search engines utilize a similar design too for that matter), in terms of the general layout. Their functionalities differ on various levels. It's important to note that this will just be how the search results pages will look, without having to click the search options link to get to it. There has been discussion in the past about how much users actually use Google's search options, simply because the feature is easy to overlook. Such a change would put the options right in your face.

Besides being visually different, the options themselves are different in some areas. For example, a "see also" section has been added, which suggests related queries. There is also a section called "show search tools," which now contains things like the Wonder Wheel, Timeline View, and "more shopping sites."

Google may start messing around with the top navigation on search results pages next year, but the company has acknowledged that it works well right now. It will be interesting to see the change in use of this top navigation if the left-hand options go mainstream.


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