Google said the move was designed to remove distractions for those web users “intent on searching”. The “fade in” effect initially presents users with the Google logo and a large search box, complete with the Search and I’m Feeling Lucky buttons. A flashing cursor is already inside the search box, meaning people can type directly in to the search field.
However, if the user moves their mouse, the rest of the page fades in to focus. The usual array of hyperlinks – directing users through to an image search, Google’s news and shopping channels and its iGoogle portal – still appear at the top of the page, while below the search box, links to advertising programs and business solutions appear. Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google, said web users appreciated Google’s “clean, minimalist approach”.
“For the vast majority of people who come to the Google homepage, they are coming in order to search,” she wrote in a blog post. “For those users who are interested in using a different application like Gmail, Google Image Search or our advertising programs, the additional links on the homepage only reveal themselves when the user moves the mouse. “Since most users who are interested in clicking over to a different application generally do move the mouse when they arrive, the ‘fade in’ is an elegant solution that provides options to those who want them, but removes distractions for the user intent on searching.”
Mayer said the new-look homepage had been trialled extensively by employees at Google’s headquarters in the US and they had “come to really like it”. “It represents our focus on great search, yet helps searchers efficiently across all of Google’s products,” she wrote on the blog. Mayer admitted that some of the homepages Google had tried out had hindered the user experience, but that the final design was “positive or neutral on all key metrics”.