Google Search’s New Look Leaves Room for Answers

Google is now rolling out a new version of search results pages for desktop web browsers. In terms of page layout, it's arguably the biggest change since 2010.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jared Newman / TIME.com

If you haven’t already, you may soon notice that Google searches look different.

Google is now rolling out a new version of search results pages for desktop web browsers. In terms of page layout, it’s arguably the biggest change since 2010, when Google added a left-hand sidebar with shortcuts to News, Images and other specialized search types.

That sidebar is now gone, replaced by tabbed search options just above the list of results. Google has also shifted the entire results list over to the left.

What’s with the new look? Two reasons: First, Google says it’s been trying to create a simpler design that’s consistent across phones, tablets and desktop web browsers. A new version of Google search for tablets arrived in July 2011, and Google cleaned up its mobile search website just last month. Although Google has made some aesthetic changes in the last year or so, this is an interface change that brings desktop search in line with tablets and phones.

But more importantly, this is about making room for Google’s Knowledge Graph, a type of search result that provides direct information on certain topics. Search for a movie star, for instance, and you’ll see an info box on the right with the actor’s birth date, picture, relationships, biographical information, filmography and related people. Search for a landmark, and you’ll get details about the site, a map view, an image and related landmarks. The information comes from Wikipedia and other public sources.

Google launched Knowledge Graph in May, but now seems to be giving it more visibility. On Google’s iPhone app, and in Google Now on the newest Android phones, you can ask a question by voice, and a computerized voice will read back information from Knowledge Graph.

Google has also experimented with showing other types of information next to the traditional search results list. In an optional field trial¬†that’s going on now, users can choose to see results from Gmail on the right side of the screen. It’s easy to imagine Google building one search engine that covers both your personal data and public information–for better or worse.

At the moment, a lot of searches don’t have answers from Knowledge Graph or other sources, so instead you get a conspicuously large amount of white space on the right side of the screen. But if anything, the new design seems like foreshadowing. Knowledge Graph may not provide too many answers now, but Google is leaving plenty of room for it to do so in the future.

5 comments
mindsci
mindsci

The new Google Search Results page layout SUCKS for desktop users! Now it requires extra clicks to get what you want: News; images of a certain size; etc. Not everyone is going to tablets with stripped down operating systems!

vermont.hermit
vermont.hermit

Ya know... I do not have dementia... I do remember what is in my google "gmail". The idea that google's search engine might data mine my e-mail for ANY reason does not make me happy. These bastgards might want to know all about us, but how transparent are they? Can we read their email?

Google and facebook have destroyed personal privacy and made most of the morons like it. Well, I do not have a Facebook account and my use of gmail is very limited. I don't want you to reach out and touch me! If you do, I'll do my best to strike you down.

NataliaStiro
NataliaStiro

HORRIBLE!!!!! I use to search by size. Now I cannot do a quick search by "larger than"!!

My570
My570

Going insane trying to fix something I thought I might of changed in my settings..Dislike very much

PBdebateforum
PBdebateforum

This sucks. I want my side bar back. I can't find anything anymore. Hell I might defect to see what Bing offers now, or yahoo, or any site that respects the searching habits of it's users. There should at least be an option to have them where you want them. I'll wait for someone on chrome to make a 3rd party app that fixes googles idiotic update.