The Google User Interface

A few weeks ago I wrote about web design mistakes.  One of the things that stuck in my head was that Google (and now Microsoft and Yahoo) have trained us to use a [blue black green] design.  It’s interesting to run into sites that use search and observe how I react to either (a) this design or (b) a different design.

Today I saw a demo of which was positioned to me at “the Google for job search.”  A quick search for jobs for firemen in Colorado brought up that [blue black green] thing.  In contrast, when I looked for jobs in Colorado in delicious (no fireman jobs, so I had to drop that tag) the [blue black green] UI was now [blue light_blue red_highlight].  My brain definitely reacted differently – on the Indeed site I knew exactly what to do based on the colors; on delicious I had to think a little (not much) harder.

It’s well known that Google AdSense performance varies dramatically based on how they are incorporated into the site (position, background color, foreground color, size).  My instinct is that this applies to the UI format that search is presented in as well.

Now – I’m not a huge fan of the [blue black green] UI – it doesn’t take a lot of effort to come up with something that is aesthetically nicer.  However, given the zillions of people who have had their “search behavior” trained by Google (and Yahoo and Microsoft), it seems like paying close attention to this UI is important.

  • Ashok

    I’d expect it to drift over time, to follow whatever the dominant search player is.
    It’s not really that long ago that a lot of sites surrounded their search box with ‘altavista yellow’. To be fair, #ffcc66 is just about the only passable yellow in the 00,33,66,99,cc,ff colour cube.

  • Pete Cashmore

    Yes – it’s interesting how our behaviour is shaped by the interfaces we’re used to. Paul Montgomery has spoken a lot about this recently – in this post, for instance, he mentions the fact that we don’t yet have UI conventions for separating blogs and “mainstream” media:

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