Google has finally begun widespread rollout of their new search results page after a testing period. Google has added a number of useful options to a new left hand column. The column is separated into three sections: Universal Search, the Search Options panel and Something Different.
Universal search is at the top and helps users refine their searches by suggesting search "genres". The "Everything" option is selected as the default and provides the classic Google results. It can be used to narrow results to categories like "News" or "Blogs". Below that is the search options panel which was rolled out last year, so you're probably already familiar with it. It is mainly used to change how the search results are displayed.
The bottom block in the new column is called Something Different. It is based on a labs project called Google Squared. This section is designed to help users compare search results. Based on search context, this area will provide similar searches. Now this is integrated right into the search results page.
According to Google, the new page will be rolling out to all users by the end of the day. Do you have the new look yet? If so, what do you think?
In an email to a partner today, YouTube confirmed that the new look for the video page they have been testing recently is about to go live. Not long after that, the changes did indeed go live. In case you haven’t seen the new page, it makes the video more of the focus and ditches the clutter.
Right up at the top is the uploader’s information. In addition to the subscribe button, you can see a drop down with the uploader’s other videos. There’s a new player button that puts the video into widescreen mode. This moves the other page elements down. The five star rating system is now gone, replaced instead by a simple thumbs up or down system. Rating a video lets you see how others have rated it. The video description has moved to a drop down right below the video. The recommended video pane now also has an autoplay button so you can avoid all that pesky clicking.
Overall, we feel like it’s a pretty good redesign. It looks much cleaner than the old version, and the video seems like a more prominent part of the page. How do you feel about it?
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.
If you happen to be a web designer, Microsoft would like to have a quick word with you. Just don’t drop any more money on Adobe products until you’ve heard them out. Microsoft’s Expression design tools haven’t enjoyed wide scale adoption in the face of Adobe, but they’re out to change that. As part of Microsoft’s “Spark” program, they will be giving away several thousand dollars worth of software to any small design firms interested.
Web design shops with up to 10 employees are eligible, and all they have to do is pay a $100 administrative fee. The so-called “WebSpark” giveaway includes multiple licenses of Expression, Visual Studio 2008, Web Server 2008 and SQL Server. The software licenses are good for three years and include full support. Not bad for $100.
Microsoft expects 15,000 to 20,000 companies to get in on the deal. Clearly, this program is meant to get small firms into the Microsoft ecosystem early. While their intentions may not be entirely pure, it’s hard to refuse the offer of free software.
If a web 2.0 service goes offline in the middle of the night does it make a sound? Well, if your Yahoo quietly pulling the plug on your free web hosting service, you hope not! As sad as it may be for us nostalgic types, after more than a decade of hosting free community webpages, this once innovative and powerful brand will finally come to a close later this year.
The trademark of the GeoCities service was the neighborhood system which allowed users to assign their page to a specific community of like minded websites. They were also founded during a period when only a handful of developers were publishing content for the web. Neighborhoods such as “Hollywood” and “Silicon Valley” were abandoned shortly after Yahoo took control of the company in 1999. It was purchased at the peek of the dot com bubble for $3.57 billion dollars, and like many other web properties scooped up at this time, it wasn’t worth as much as they’d hoped.
Yahoo is also known for having made several unpopular changes to the service shortly after acquisition which some users blame for its slow downward spiral. One of these changes for example was a modification to the terms of service which allowed Yahoo to lay claim to any content hosted on its service. Many of these decisions were eventually reversed, but with the rapidly falling costs of web hosting, it was only a matter of time before it folded in. Yahoo has stopped accepting new applications, and existing users are being encouraged to upgrade to one of their paid web hosting packages.
Did you ever host a website on Geocities? Share your memories after the jump.
We're taking a look at Web page creation tools in this week's freeware/open-source roundup. And let's face it, the task sounds daunting: making a Web page, that is. Finding the programs is the easy part. There are a ton of authoring tools out on the Interwebs, but therein lies the problem. You don't want to have to burrow through 30 different applications to find the one that matches your experience level. And if you're completely new to HTML/CSS, you're going to want the most bare-bones, easy-to-use application you can find for making your first big online "Hello World!"
We've scoured through a number of programs to find the best applications for helping you make that picture-perfect Web page. From HTML creation, to file uploading, to validating, our choices represent a batch of must-have programs. Depending on your experience level, you might not need all five before you have your own variant of Maximumpc.com up and running. But everyone should be able to find something they need in our treasure trove of Web tools.