Google Gets A Fantasy Facelift
The homepage of Google.com is probably one of the most visited resources on the Internet. It is famous for being a simple search interface, uncluttered by the widgets, news tickers and graphics as featured on most turn-of-the-millenium websites. But does it need a facelift?
Well, designer Andy Rutledge seems to think so. Andy recently took it upon himself to look at Google’s homepage from a design and usability perspective and has drafted up his idea of an improved version.
Questioning Your Design Choices
Redesigning Google is an interesting exercise. And while we’ve all gotten used to the simplified search screen that Google offers, Andy questions every aspect of the page, asking why elements are placed in certain areas. What, if any, were the reasons for these design choices? After looking at the perceived mistakes, he sets about designing an alternative Google hompage on the premise that
In design, if you don’t know why you’re putting something somewhere you’re likely making a mistake. If an element of the layout serves no specific purpose or if the visual or spacial properties of any element are chosen for no particular reason the result will be bad design. Don’t do that.
Not all websites are as widely used as Google’s, but if you have a site of your own, consider the design for a moment. Is it logical? Are related areas/themes grouped together?
Think about the design choices that you have made and ask yourself how a visitor to your site would view them. Does your site design make the visitor’s life easier or more difficult? Or did you spend more time trying to display your flickr photos in the sidebar than worrying about navigation?
Another aspect that’s been covered elsewhere is consistency. Are you being too radical with your website design? Breaking with the traditional header/sidebar/content areas can confuse and frustrate users and send them away in droves.
Learning From Mistakes
It’s easy to get carried away in designing your site. However, after the initial enthusiasm has worn off, take a fresh look at it as if you were a potential visitor/customer.
A short while after putting this version of scribbledesigns.co.uk online, a commenter on a post noted that he didn’t know who we were – the blog was completely anonymous! He said “I liked your site, but I didn’t know who to contact.”
Sure, we had a contact form in the right place, but not enough information to entice anyone to use it. I suppose I’d been too busy getting the scribble in the top right corner to look good that full contact details had fallen by the wayside!
I thought about this, and decided that as a business we should have a fairly prominent contact box on each page. After all, the main purpose of this site is to dazzle potential clients with our web design abilities and encourage them to hire us! The contact form currently has pride of place at the very top of our sidebar.
Look at your site again. What would you change if you had the chance?