Chris Alexander

On Engineering

New Google.com Design

7th March, 2010

Today I logged on to Google.com for the first time in several days. I immediately noticed that the design of the homepage has had a bit of an overhaul.

I had a look, and it seems that very few accounts are getting the new design - I couldn’t find mention of it on Twitter or Google (even results within the past few days).

There seem to be more than a few changes in the homepage this time round. Here’s a quick run-down.

Google have come up with a new logo. It is much plainer, with fewer shadows on the text, a considerably reduced drop shadow, and no trademark symbol.

What is also interesting is where the old logo was in the antiquated GIF format, the new one is a PNG. This allows for a smaller file (there are a few less pixels), with a reduction from 8.36 KB for the old GIF to 6.64 JB for the new PNG.

It may not seem that this makes too much difference - however serving 2 fewer kilobytes how many times Google serves their homepage is a considerable amount of load lifted off Google’s networks and the internet.

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Search Results Redesign

Search result pages have also had an overhaul.

Options have been relocated from a dropdown to a column on the left. The search box now connects up with the search button, and there are 2 ways of expanding to more options for your search results.

The top horizontal toolbar, which used to be blue and running across the entire page under the logo, has been ditched and the information moved elsewhere.

The logo has also been replaced and made larger.

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More Optimisations

The code to render the page is slightly larger - by about 500 characters (this is still enough to have an impact remember).

There are other optimisations around the page. Where the old page used to use Webkit CSS gradients to render the gradients on the search buttons, they now use a background image taken from their CSS image sprite. This makes it slightly less efficient, but does allow non-Webkit browsers to render the gradients.

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New Feel

One of the first things that made me take notice of this change was that all the links of the page have changed tone - from a deep plain blue to a slightly lighter and paler tone. There’s a comparison of the two shades on a larger scale below.

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HTML 5

I also noticed that both the new and old homepages now use the HTML 5 doctype declaration at the beginning of their sources.

Conclusions

Looks like Google have been AB-testing small changes to the design of the site again.

Constantly searching for ways to keep users on Google rather than passing them off to other sites (they can show them more ads that way).

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