It’s been a busy week over at the Googleplex. The major news in the digital world has been the launch of the greatly anticipated Google+: a new social network that is the search engine giant’s answer to Facebook and Twitter.
But perhaps the most noticeable development for Joe Public was the newly designed search pages. Visitors to Google are now greeted by a black top banner sitting on a light grey band, atop of the existing characteristic minimalist whitewash background. The colour red also makes a prominent debut outside of the logo to accentuate key titles and headings, and the new blue search button features a prominent icon rather than the word ‘search’.
However it’s not just the search pages that have had a makeover. The black band is now visible across other Google products, and the other design tweaks are gradually being rolled out further afield. Google+ is the noticeable first adoptee, and Gmail users can switch through a fairly simple setting change (although this is likely to be a forced change in the near future).
So what are the key design features of these changes and what do they mean for users, marketers and web designers?
A strategic move
The roll out of a more ‘unified design’ points to Google’s strategy to better unify all its products and services, with the new top bar acting as a useful navigation tool for users to easily switch between them.
There is a clear nod to improving usability too. The use of the prominent red and blue will help users easily identify important buttons and sections. This goes alongside the use of symbols rather than words, for a more accessible experience.
Keeping up with the Joneses
Google seems to be making a statement by moving away from its geekier look and feel to adopt some of the more current design techniques being used on the web. The use of capitals on buttons is a good example of this; with the overall appearance having more of a designer feel.
Mobile, mobile, mobile
Another key consideration of the changes is how they can be rolled out across different platforms; crucially on mobile devices. Ensuring designs work and are aesthetically pleasing on smaller screens is now vital for any digital design.
The changes clearly reflect a move towards a more ‘app-like’ feel and experience. With the explosion of apps for mobile devices and touchscreens, as well as the development of HTML5 (increasingly used by Google and heavily supported on Chrome), we are likely to see more and more websites move in this direction.
It will be interesting to see how users react to these designs and whether they continue to evolve. Marketers and web designers should take note of these changes and consider them for future developments, as, because of Google’s dominance, they will affect the way we all use the web.