Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Google Philosophy

Up until now, Google had a pretty clear design philosophy when it came to their products. Speed and simplicity were the king and queen of Google software design, and this was reflected in everything from their AdSense service all the way down to the source code on the Google web page itself. For example, if you've ever clicked "View Source" on Google, you'd see that the code is crammed together as tightly as possible to minimize the amount of time it takes to transmit across the network. Very slick.

Lately, however, you can spot some changes in that philosophy. The Beta for version 2.0 of Google Desktop is a good example... it's probably the most invasive and distracting piece of software I've seen in awhile, which is something I just don't expect from Google. It can rest as a simple search bar on the bottom of the screen, but to get all the whiz bang features they're trying to promote, you need to have it sit on the side of your screen where it takes up a pretty good deal of real estate.

Another example is the introduction of the new personalized Google homepage. It combines some of the features of the Google Desktop and Google News right on the page, so no longer is there the clean, simple "Google" with a text field we've grown accustomed to.

I use a lot of Google stuff at home and at work. I use Gmail for email (I mentioned this as one of my favorite free things on the web in a previous post). I use the Gmail Notifier at work. I use Google constantly to for development questions. I check Google News in the morning to see what's going on. I use Google Desktop (version 1) in place of the horribly slow Windows Search.

And, obviously, I use Blogger.

Granted, nobody is forcing you to turn any of this stuff on.. you can still use "Google Classic" and you'll get the simple screen you know and love. But that the fact that the switch now exists AT ALL to turn it on seems like a departure in philosophy to me.

I'm not saying that any of this is necessarily a bad thing... I just find it surprising. For now, I suppose it's nice to have the option to personalize my "Google Homepage", but does adding a level of complexity mean that Google will soon look like "My Yahoo" in terms of screen clutter and slower load times?

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