If you have used Google’s search engine in the last week you may have noticed some slight changes to the appearance of the results page. In an attempt to better the look and feel of the results page the executives at Google decided to make a few changes.

The Changes

resultsThe changes are simple, the line spacing has been increased and underlines have been removed, but the most noticeable difference

is the change to the paid advertisements that appear very first on the list of search results. Before the change Google would place a yellow background shade behind them in an attempt to make the links stand out a little more and catch the attention of the user. Now, after the changes to the page has been put into effect, those ads look similar to any other link on the page with the exception of a bright yellow box that says AD within it.

This simple change has been received with mixed feelings around the web with some claiming that the change has made it less likely for the user to notice their ad. Some of those paying for the ad placement believe this is hurting the traffic coming into their page and wish the change would be reversed.

Usability Testing

The team over at Usertesting.com have decided to put these claims to rest by creating a usability test to figure out once and for all if the users respond any differently to the new design. For the test Usertesting.com says “we set up a 50-person remote usability study and asked participants to rate the redesigned aspects of Google’s search results page, on both the current version and the previous version. Then, we asked them to compare the sites side-by-side.”

Results

The results were surprising. Both pages, new and old, received 87.2% of the users claiming that finding the paid advertising links were easy and looked good and giving both a 4.7 out of 5 stars. These results quickly disproved the theory that people wouldn’t be able to find the paid links. The surprise was that the most noticed, and preferred, change was the spacing between the lines with users giving the old page a 4.38 and the new page a 4.54 out of 5.

Can google redesign they results page with success?

Once the two versions of the page were brought together to the participants the results were unquestionable. 33 out of the 50 participants said that the new version of the results page was a better page overall.

It just goes to show that although some of the changes the people over at Google make may bring up some complaints from the users, the Google execs are professionals and wouldn’t make any changes to the design if they didn’t believe it would be for the benefit of the users.

 

Photo credit- google logo: Wikipedia

 

Jamie Bates