Most people don’t hit the actual Google homepage very often. Just this once, have a look. Notice anything? Or rather, a lack of anything?
Google’s new homepage
utilizes a “fade-in” for all page elements not directly related to search. All the links to Google services and tools are hidden until you move the mouse in the window. You can load the page and search without seeing any of the extra stuff.
Google says they’ve tried about 10 different variants of the new page on the site. Some versions even hid the search buttons as well. Google measured response to the page and eventually settled on this new design. The search giant was at first concerned that the fade in appeared to be causing users to pause before interacting with the page. Eventually, they decided the short delay was just a temporary result of users taking note of the change. Sure enough, people began “to use the homepage even more efficiently than the control group.”
It’s a strange place Google is in. As Bing is adding features left and right in an attempt to attract users, Google runs trials complete with control groups to decide how best to hide superfluous links and speed up user action a few milliseconds at a time. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what it’s like to be on top of the search world.