Google has revealed it will change its famously empty homepage. The company plans to add in a feed to show news stories, videos and algorithmically determined highlights.
This is despite the fact that the clutter-free homepage is one of the iconic aspects of the Google brand, which helped it rapidly become the world’s most popular search engine.
What does it mean for users and advertisers?
If successful the new homepage style could change how Google’s billions of users experience search. The platform will try and predict what people might be interested in and suggest that before any search happens. Such a significant change in how people use Google will influence brands’ search marketing strategies.
Google will certainly not be the first to try this technique. Rival search engine Bing already shows news stories in a strip across the bottom of its homepage, and Facebook dominates the newsfeed strategy.
Of course, Facebook’s business is based on allowing brands to inject sponsored content. Google will not say whether it has similar plans, but if so it could be a hugely significant new advertising channel - and potentially merging some of the current functions of Google News and Google+.
What will it look like?
We've imagined what the new Google homepage might look like and, with the help of our Art Director Matt, the end results are below. The first example uses a column approach that Google already favours in its “dialer” homepage variant – popular URLs shown when a new Chrome tab is opened – and by Google+.
Google has been moving heavily into a card design format and it is expected that trend will continue to the revamped homepage. Below are examples of how this might look on tablets such as Apple’s iPad and the Microsoft Surface.
Google Now, now on your desktop?
This will not be Google’s first attempt at a customised homepage either. The search engine experimented with ‘iGoogle’ until 2013 and allowed brands to build widgets for users to add to their search experience.
However iGoogle has since been superseded by Google Now for smartphones and it is likely the new Google will draw on this. It may even be a desktop evolution of the service.
Google Now shows trending news, news that Google has personalised to individuals, weather, sports and other alerts. It also tracks some deliveries, gives price alerts, fitness summaries, birthday, events and flight reminders and a host of other predictive suggestions. It is sophisticated enough to know that a search for [car insurance] does not necessarily indicate an interest in the finance industry whereas a search for [Avengers: Infinity War] is more likely to suggest an interest in the movie.
Popping the filter bubble
The search engine is promising to show news suggestions from a wide range of sources as to avoid concerns about the ‘filter bubble’ effect in which people only get their news from organisations that support their point of view. This may frustrate supporters of campaigns like Hope Not Hate who are already campaigning to give people the ability to entirely block extremist publications from Google News.
We’re very excited to see how Google implement this huge change to their homepage’s UX and what the reaction is from their users.
Big thanks to Matt for his art direction.
Girdy is the head of media technology and this means he tends to view sites, campaigns and other digital tools as media assets.