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Weak conceptual and visual redesigns of Google from Wired magazine

Weak conceptual and visual redesigns of Google from Wired magazine.

Reader comments

Andy BaioFeb 25, 2004 at 10:02AM

Design by Fire did a nice job, I thought.

CarlFeb 25, 2004 at 10:13AM

I like 37signal's 37better Google because it addresses useful new functionality and not just eye candy. In fact, it's the same design but with one very useful piece of functionality grafted on top. Try what they say. You'll see there is a difference depending on the order of your search term.

gwFeb 25, 2004 at 10:34AM

I think the designs are more tongue-in-cheek than anything else, certainly compared to the links above.

AdamFeb 25, 2004 at 12:09PM

Jenny Holzer's reminds me of John Brunner's *Shockwave Rider* - the details of an insider deal appended to a "Nutrition Facts" label, etc. In Brunner, the mere release of these data into the wild resulted in a social uprising.

We should be so lucky.

RobFeb 25, 2004 at 12:50PM

Weak? A little harsh.

Shrill, on the other hand, describes Ms. Holzer's take. The best way to decrease our trust in the service Google provides is to taint it with a bias, be that bias political, ideological or commercial.

Ideo, a Product and innovation firm delivers a clean solution which could help position Google for growth.

MattFeb 25, 2004 at 1:18PM

I agree. Not sure what the point of this is. Google became popular because of its simplicity, ease of use and the fact that it was the antithesis of the so-called cutting edge design that the likes of Joshua Davis were producing in the late 90s.

Robert D.Feb 25, 2004 at 1:54PM

All three "redesigns" are ridiculous. Google's front page is simple for a reason. Sit my dad down in front of one of the hojillions of "portals" out there and he'll freeze up, but show him Google and he'll instinctively know what to do.

Of course Joshua Davis wants a hyper-complicated Google page; he charges thousands of dollars for redesigns and the more complex they are, the more money he makes. "Top 64 colors"? Is he kidding me? Only a superdesigner like Davis himself would like that. My parents (along with 90% of the world) would neither know nor care to know what the top 64 colors associated with a search would be. People just want answers.

Jenny Holzer's idea will only confuse people. "Why," they will ask themselves, "is there an NSA document on Google's front page?" I do think a random-link-to-weirdness would be nice, but it doesn't really help anyone.

Shepard Fairey's is just plain stupid. More design = more visual "noise" for the viewer. You can interpret Google's front page in less than a second; why add a lot of garbage that only causes your eye to race around the screen, wondering how you're supposed to do what you want to do?

Ideo simply prophesizes that in the future, everything will have a Google button. I doubt it, but can't rule it out either.

Google's front page is a paragon of cleanliness. People don't come to Google to see fancy designs; they just want to know where to find things. (Okay...and to see their holiday doodles.) Cluttering it up with a lot of extra stuff only hurts them; it's what hurt all the search engines before.

Here's a test. Open Excite and close your eyes while it loads, thinking of what you want to find. Now open your eyes for only half a second, close them again and tell me where that thing you were looking for is. I'll bet you can't.

These days, less is becoming more: Altavista, Metacrawler, Dogpile, and other engines have all redesigned with Google-like interfaces. I don't know if this is a law already, but if not, I deem it my law: The value of each object on a screen is, in general, inversely proportional to the number of objects on the screen. Google knows this.

JohnFeb 25, 2004 at 2:53PM

Re: Fairey's Design
"I wanted to respect the branding and format that Google has established..."

Hah! Fairey threw Google's brand right out the window. Does he know what brand is? Did he catch the recent studies that showed Google as one of the top brands in the world?

StewartFeb 25, 2004 at 3:25PM

"Weak" seems quite generous to me (for the designs: I think the IDEO idea is quite good).

AdamFeb 25, 2004 at 4:46PM

Good geist, people! These weren't serious proposals; they were more about the Davis/Holzer/Fairey brands than anything else. Lighten up!

NikFeb 25, 2004 at 5:47PM

I would love to see what a certain Jason Kottke would do if he were asked to redesign Google... ;)

mikeFeb 25, 2004 at 6:44PM

Who even goes to these days? Doesn't everyone have their toolbar? I would have liked to see improvements to the results pages like 37signal's posted above.

msippeyFeb 25, 2004 at 7:15PM

What I loved about the Ideo option was that it assumed that the Google button could read my mind. Finally, telepathic search!

who says i need a name?Feb 25, 2004 at 7:31PM

Googles done. It sucks. Im sick of it. Time for something new.... But everything else sucks more. Damn.

kaviFeb 25, 2004 at 8:08PM

im not a big davis fan...a designer colleague of mine always rips his stuff off. nothing great really - though he has done some amazing stuff (davis that is).

Jim RayFeb 25, 2004 at 10:14PM

Nik - YOU FOOL! The first rule of Kottke is (wait for it...) DO NOT CRITIQUE KOTTKE!

I think Andy's link to the designbyfire rework is smashing. Although, I truly wish that rounded tabs would simply disappear. The AdWords treatment is absolutely stunning.

Unfortunately, I feel like Wired's bit on the whole topic is pretty stale - kinda mired in 1996. I know that Wired is the new Apple when it comes to writing obituaries ("remember when they were, like, SO cool"), but they seem to be in a slide. I think I remember being excited by one cover story all of last year (the diamond thing).

Feh, maybe I'm just getting old and cranky.

BenFeb 25, 2004 at 10:48PM

They are sarcastic and not meant to be serious. Is humor dead online these days?

smart??Feb 25, 2004 at 11:48PM

ok Kottke, how would you redesign Google?

shakyFeb 26, 2004 at 4:20AM

I think the only thing Google needs to redisign is the logo, the interface is exactly as it should be

blindinFeb 26, 2004 at 8:14AM

Google doesn't need to redesign anything about the search homepage. All they have to do is continue not screwing up.

Weak was a good choice of word, I would have used "lame reworkings from designers obsessed more by ego than functionalism".

As for the 37signals amendment: I use Google because it provides me with a fast search, why would I want some frankly unhelpful (if you think about it) piece of nonsense slowing down the delivery of those results. The number of different results returned for any given search has absolutely nothing to do with pertinence, which is the major factor in searching.

souloniceFeb 26, 2004 at 11:24AM

The Design By Fire redesign looks awfully busy to me and those tabs are hideous. Everything looks overstated. More than 1/2 the text on the page is bolded.

dave rauFeb 26, 2004 at 1:12PM

Shepard should have done a version with Chairman Mao, that would have made us communists happy. While the versions were not very serious efforts, they were hinting at something very smart. It certainly isn't an easy task to take an established visual and improve on it without feeling like your destroying something at the same time.

The Josh Davis version gets at a really interesting idea of making physical references to virtual people and places. Even the references to color aren't for everyone, but it's pretty damn interesting data for us stats geeks. Maybe it's just "Art"; that makes it easier to swallow now doesn't it? hah!

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.