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I'm wondering how long it would last if it impacts on AdWords CTR
If the lowered stats were confirmed as statistically significant, the design would not last. However, it is being tested, right? It won't even go live if that test shows a negative impact. I know of no business that would go ahead with a design change that they knew would hurt revenue.
I remember after the introduction of Universal Search that Gord Hotchkiss [pubcon.com] discussed new eye-tracking heatmap studies he'd done, which indicated that the former "F"-shaped heatmap pattern had been replaced by a pattern that was closer to an "E" shape.
With text-only SERPs, eye-tracking studies had shown that user focus started at the top left, moved across the page to points of interest and then gradually down, describing an "F"-shaped pattern that became known as the "golden triangle." But with Universal Search's addition of thumbnails in the left column, the eye's attention was pulled from the top left starting point more quickly down to the image thumbnails, and then it moved across to the right, describing more of an "E" pattern than an "F" pattern. There was quite a bit of discussion at the time about what this might do to AdWords click-throughs, the assumption being that the images on the left side would draw attention not only away from the top, but also away from the ads on the right.
Key components of the new design are the Google logo and the dark blue (with white lettering) "Everything" bar in the upper left, the bold font in the search box, and the dark blue "Search" bar to the right of the search window. These all attract the eye to the top of the page.
On a search for a well-known product, eg, I'm seeing that the top two ads are essentially framed on the top left by Google-colored icons for the most popular Google vertical channels, and in the right AdWords column by the top ad, which features a c82-px square product shot. I should note also that the second ad at the top has a dark blue Google Checkout logo, essentially in the lower right corner of the top add block, which is the same dark blue as the "Search" button. I'll be interested to see how this interface does.
Very clean, and while the ads feel more prominent, they are also easily distinguishable from the organic results. The block of Shopping results in position #3 is more problematic.
I'm wondering how long it would last if it impacts on AdWords CTR...
Judging from past changes to the AdSense ad units and to the AdSense program policies, CTR isn't as important as conversions. Providing a product that works well seems to be more important for Google's long term aspirations than sucking down billions of dollars a nickel and dime at a time.
I know of no business that would go ahead with a design change that they knew would hurt revenue.
Using the AdSense program as an example, Google has made design changes to make their ads stand out clearly as ads, and has made program policy decisions with the goal of reducing accidental clicks, two design changes that negatively affected revenue enough to show up in their quarterly reports.
I haven't seen the Jazz Interface, but I have a feeling they won't go through with it unless it had a positive or negligible effect on conversions and popularity.
Why stick with an interface if less people like it than the old one?
Why stick with an interface if more people like it but conversions go down for advertisers?
There's even a "search forums" link. That could affect long tail searches if many become aware of it. But aren't forums poor money generators for adsense?
Also being #3 in the SERPS takes you even further down the page as local business results have an expanded map with names below it.
I am not sure if anyone noticed but Google.com has a new look, both on the home page and on search results page.
Home page - Firstly, the home page buttons are different (lighter), the "Google" logo seems lighter (or is it because there is no shading behind letters) and the search box is higher than before.
SERPs results page
Well, I just did a search which normally shows local business results on google Map and now I see Google Map as wide as organic search results column with the local businesses listed below the map (and not to the right of the map as they were before). This of course results in even less organic rankings shown before fold.
The whole SERPs page is wider for about an inch and there is a left hand column which shows some of options that were before only shown when you clicked on "Show Options" after the search - now the column (but not as long) is there all the time.
Is anyone else seeing this?
[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 2:26 am (utc) on Jan. 22, 2010]
What I saw has many similarities to what Robert described in his post of 4th Jan, (e.g. blue "Everything" button), but also some differences (no blue "Search" buton).
I also saw that "Wonderwheel" has disappeared (or I cannot find it!)
But the biggest change I noticed is Google map for local result which is so prominently taking the place on the page as it is now the full width of the search results, and with Google Map places being listed below the map.
BTW - I just opened Google.com on the another tab and now it reverted on the old design.