Google Logo, Search Result Designs Evolve Methodically

Google's corporate logo changes

hide captionGoogle's corporate logo has become a bit less bulgy in its latest incarnation. The images above show the subtle changes the company rolled out today; the bottom logo is the new one and it has less of a raised look.

Press image/Google Inc.

Today, Google Inc. rolled out some changes to its corporate logo, its search results pages and options that are available once you Google something.

The changes will be new to most people: only beta testers had seen the refinements before today. But even with 550 changes made to Google's search engine in the last year, most won't even notice the differences. They're subtle improvements, not a complete redesign, says Jon Wiley, a Google Senior User Experience Designer.

"Hopefully the search task shines and people don't think about the design too much," Wiley said, "Sure, if you have them side by side you can probably pick things out, but overall it’s a refined improvement. It’s a refresh."

In 2007, Google introduced Universal Search, which brings together Web page, image, blog and other searches into one results page. Over time, Google has also added results from Twitter in addition to shopping links, related searches and other picks that are listed along the rail to the left of the results.

Wiley says that Google's search engine is getting smarter about context: if you search for a big recent news story like the Eyjafjallajokul volcano or the NFL draft, you'll get options like "Timeline" or "Updates" rising to higher prominence. As far as the visual design, Google did away with distractions like blue bars and a big blue SEARCH button at the top in its rejected changes (see image below) to focus instead on clean lines and an emphasis on the search results, Wiley said.

Google's rejected search results pages i i

hide captionSome of the rejected designs for Google's search results pages include blue bars, a distracting blue button and other elements that were scrapped.

Press image/Google, Inc.
Google's rejected search results pages

Some of the rejected designs for Google's search results pages include blue bars, a distracting blue button and other elements that were scrapped.

Press image/Google, Inc.

"We tested the interface with thousands of Google employees," he said, "They said, 'The blue button has got to go.' "

Wiley said the biggest challenge has been balancing new features like real-time search results (from sites like Twitter) with keeping a simple, uncluttered look.

"As we’ve been exploring al the ways together these things to create a unified experience and create a coherent around search, we keep pushing changes and adding feautures and capabilities," he said.

As far as the new, flatter Google logo itself, it seems to bucking the industry trend of everything going 3-D.

"We're mavericks," Wiley joked, "we retained a lot of the classic look, but the logo has a more modern feel to it."

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