I’m currently getting a new look Google. Such things aren’t uncommon – with the vast amount of traffic Google gets, and the depth of the usage data they collect they can easily test new features to millions of people at a time without affecting aggregate experience of the site.
Their design process is actually very boring and iterative. Having hired a genius like Doug Bowman, Google then spent 3 years ignoring his advice and testing 40 shades of blue to see which had the highest clickthrough rates. And this is why your Google is still pretty much your Dad’s Google. White background. Blue links.
Today’s iterative test – the one that I’m seeing – looks like this. As ever, it’s a small evolution.
- The URL of the site is moved up under the title of the link
- Much more white space between individual links
- The ‘cached’ and ‘similar’ links are gone..
Yep. The ‘cached’ feature isn’t there. While the other stuff is tedious design-by-measurement stuff and ‘similar sites’ did nothing useful, the cache is one of the most important things you can use to give you a flavour of what Google is seeing when it looks at your site.
- It acts as a record of the code – giving you an easy way to catch out developers who tell you that “the site was always like that”
- It acts to show you when Google last visited – giving you a feel for the rate of spidering your site gets and also helping you to establish whether or not Google has actually noticed the last batch of changes you made to the site.
- It acts to show you whether Google is actually showing the page as intended – and that any funky Ajax the designers/developers have build into the page isn’t causing any grief for the spiders
Anyway, Google aren’t reading this and don’t care anyway: but please don’t take my cache away!
Minor additional chortle: when I worked in Ripon, I got results skewed to Manchester as my default. Now I’m in Harrogate, I’m getting Leeds. Personally I suspect Google are trying to force users to supply geo-data by forcing the little “change location” link into lots of searches to draw up a more accurate map of regional IP addresses. Which is clever, when you think about it. Or sinister.