On Thursday, Google quietly gave its classic white search page a
makeover, rotating artistic background photos throughout the day. This
change raised the hackles of users
everywhere, and even attracted mild mockery
from the European division of Microsoft. (Microsoft's search engine Bing has featured large, stylish photo backgrounds long before Google's
switch.) Within hours, the tech titan backed down, stripped out the
photos, and restored the plain-jane vanilla look. Why did Google give
up so quickly?
- Official Explanation: A 'Bug' Jason Kincaid
of TechCrunch raises an eyebrow at the official Google line, which
explains that "We had planned to run an explanation of the showcase
alongside it--in the form of a link on our homepage. Due to a bug, the
explanatory link did not appear for most users. As a result, many
people thought we had permanently changed our homepage, so we decided
to stop today's series early." Kincaid seems to display skepticism by
putting "bug" in quotation marks.
- More Likely Expanation: User Frustration Matthew Shaer
of Christian Science Monitor does a nice job documenting the outpouring
of anger during Google's short-lived redesign. "Twitter users had a
field day teeing off on the Google background, which was called 'ugly'
and 'distracting.' Over at the Google help forums, the tone of the
comments isn't much nicer. 'Google, are you listening? You're freaking
us out! I like the simplicity of Google. Everything else on the Web is
too busy and complicated. It was nice to at least start searching from
a simple and peaceful place,' one user complained. 'No Options?'
complained another. 'I am starting to get sick of this!'"
- Frustration 1: Poor Visual Balance
He explains that the big photo was never intended to be a default for
everyone. "Unfortunately, due to a bug in the rollout, every computer
user who has a Google account (Gmail, Google Docs, etc.) didn't have
the option of switching over to the new format, but were instead
confronted with disconcerting, if pleasant, images underneath their
usual search fields and links." This imposition of a photo was a consistent complaint among users.
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