May 2, 2000
7:45 AM   Subscribe

Google appears to be telling a story with their logo. Is this a fun and creative way to "extend their brand" (as the marcom kids like to say) or do they need to stop letting their engineers handle their logo design?
posted by jkottke (22 comments total)
Don't know how "fun" it will be (it doesn't pique my interest enough to make me want to see what happens) BUT it guarantees return hits to the site which is always the ultimate goal, no? At least there aren't any swooshes or swirly things (yet).
posted by the webmistress at 8:10 AM on May 2, 2000

as long as a site isnt has horrible as im fine with it.
posted by sikk at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2000

Frankly, when I'm looking for top-notch story-telling with little stupid colored pictures, I know where to go: a search engine!
posted by dhartung at 8:49 AM on May 2, 2000

Maybe Pyra could help Google clarify their business model...

posted by wendell at 10:17 AM on May 2, 2000

I think they got as far as the stickiness chapter in their copy of Search Engine Design For Dummies ["give the user a reason to come back every single day...."] without having yet gotten to the Build a Weblog section, praise Odin.
posted by jessamyn at 11:09 AM on May 2, 2000

I went to (linked above) and the "on-fire" letters looked to me like they spelled out:

"hot death"

posted by wiremommy at 11:56 AM on May 2, 2000

while i give them credit for thinking up a new and creative way to bring back customers, maybe they should have thought a little more about whether people would actually care enough to come back for a graphical story. boring. now, if they were giving away cash to the people who figured out what they're trying to say that would be another story.
posted by brig at 12:04 PM on May 2, 2000

It would delight me no end to find that Google didn't give a flip about "extending their brand".

I don't expect that is in fact the case, but extending their brand by pretending not to give a flip about extending their brand is, I suppose, the next best thing.
posted by Sapphireblue at 1:18 PM on May 2, 2000

i don't know if i'll stay interested, but the very idea of this is one of the best things i've seen in ages. like them participating in april fool's day - who cares, but if you do, here ya go.
posted by mikel at 1:34 PM on May 2, 2000

It's kind of cute. It doesn't get in my way. Google's been good about keeping out of my way, so far.
posted by lbergstr at 1:40 PM on May 2, 2000

Perhaps we should all be glad that they only let the engineers mess with the logo, and not with the actual page design. See for why this is a true blessing.
posted by smackfu at 4:09 PM on May 2, 2000

Every picture tells a story... don't it?

I think this is adorable, and you're all a bunch of stick-in-the-muds.

Telling a story in that fashion (tiny cartoons, no bubbles) is damned difficult, but, frankly, I don't even care how well it turns out. It's different, and it'll get 'em hits.

I did something similar, years back, with my answering machine messages. Had people calling back every couple days to hear "the hext episode". (You know how hard it is to do drama in 20 second slices? :-)
posted by baylink at 5:36 PM on May 2, 2000 [1 favorite]

I think they got as far as the stickiness chapter in their copy of Search Engine Design For Dummies ["give the user a reason to come back every single day...."] without having yet gotten to the LEARN TO DESIGN A LOGO section.

posted by Zeldman at 8:05 PM on May 2, 2000

>without having yet gotten to the LEARN TO DESIGN A LOGO section

Sing it, brother.

And as for the page design, simple is good (in this case, but not always), but Google could use some improvements. It's obvious they do not have any professional designers on staff (or else they're just not very good). They have a good thing going by giving the users exactly what they want (the best results fast, with minimal commercials and cross-sells), but they need some design folks to take that concept and really make it work.

Design is a good idea.
posted by jkottke at 9:16 PM on May 2, 2000

>but they need some design folks to take that concept and really make it work.

and i think anyone here would kill for that job. even if it paid peanuts.
posted by Zeldman at 10:03 PM on May 2, 2000

I like Google. I like that it has a simple design (or lack thereof.) I can find things when I go there, which is something the other cluttered search engines aren't providing me at this time.

I think their logo-story and holiday logos are cute, but that's just me.
posted by Electric Elf at 10:13 PM on May 2, 2000

Why do they need a better design? I don't understand that. A text box is all they need. Their stickiness comes from quick, reliable searches. It's a very rare occurance that I need to scroll past the first 10 search results to find the information I'm looking for.
posted by cCranium at 5:39 AM on May 3, 2000

Yeah; c'mon, Jason; give: *why* is their front page design poor? On what criteria does it fail your tests? Usability? Functionality?

Or is it just that, like *usable* architectural design, it's less likely to win awards?

(Ever been *in* a Frank Lloyd Wright building? I have; I used to date a Florida Southern student. FLW was 5'9". I'm 6'2". If this ever happens to you... bring a hard hat.)
posted by baylink at 8:17 AM on May 3, 2000

Most of the enhancements I had in mind would improve the usability of Google.

- The logo is too big, both visually and physically.

- Along with that, there are several different sorts of information on the page, and the differences and relationships between them are not all that clear. What's the most important thing on the page? What's the second most important thing? Third? What do new users need to see? What do power users not want to be bothered with? I don't believe they've put a lot of thought into that sort of thing.

- Google's services are expanding, but that isn't obvious to users. I know that they have a special Linux search, but damned if I can find it right now. That doesn't mean that they have to list everything they do on the front page, but people should know where to go to find it.

- Aesthetically, the logo and the navigational elements so good. A lot of people tune out when designers start talking about how aesthetics matter, but they really do. Aesthetics affect how people feel about what they are looking at, which in turn, affects how they use it. That's just humanity.

- The display of the search results could be more clear. Google returns a lot of good information that different users use in different ways. How could the results be restructured to better differentiate between the different bits of info?

- The "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, while fun and whimsical, serves no purpose, and yet is a major part of the interface.

Huge caveat to this whole discussion: by applying any sort of design to Google, you risk alienating what I will term the "Slashdot audience" (warning, generalizations ahead, but ones which I think are fairly accurate). Pages without much thought to design, especially from an aesthetic POV, seem to have a greater amount of credibility with them (for example, the Slashdot site itself and any Linux GUI). You take a site like Slashdot and apply some design to it, and I think people would think less of it. I find this to be a fascinating phenomenon, does anyone have any ideas on why this seems to be the case? I have a few, but I'm tired and going to bed.
posted by jkottke at 11:55 PM on May 3, 2000

Tired? It wasn't even midnight yet...

In order: "visually and physically"? I'm not certain what distinction you're trying to make there, but I don't think their logo is any appreciable amount bigger than the logos of the other search engines... perhaps it's just that there isn't a bunch of extraneous bullshit on the page? I consider that a *feature*, myself, but then, I'm part of the "Slashdot audience"... we'll come back to this.

The most important thing on the page? At a search site? The input field. I don't have any trouble finding theirs.

As far as "what do new users need to see; what do power users not want to see", I think you're playing into a fairly common applications design miscue: if you're designing an application that will be used frequently, especially for long periods of time, you design it for efficiency of use by power users, not for ease of training -- unless your turnover is ridiculous, in which case you have much worse problems. This is one of the few points on which I agree with Alan Cooper and his opinions in _About_Face_.

Personally, I don't have all that much trouble with their front page.

I will agree that the search results could use a touch more tweaking. I'm particularly displeased with their recent dropping of the word 'cached'; I presume they're trying to deflect a lawsuit (that I'd much prefer to see then fight and win, actually). And I wonder who complained about 'GoogleScout', though I don't miss that one as much.

"IFL" does in fact serve a purpose; not all purposes are solely production oriented. IFL is a generator of word-of-mouth. If, indeed, you find that the majority of your searches are fulfilled by the first hit, whether it be from the list or from IFL, you're *going* to tell people that -- the existence of the IFL button is merely a subtle prod to bring that circumstance (getting useful first hits) to your attention without being obvious about it.

I personally think it's the cleverest thing they've done yet. There's a madness to their method...

As for "Slashdot design", yeah, I can tell you exactly what's going on there. Most geeks revere *functionality* over all else. Most "chrome" is the product of people who have other primary considerations, and we hate people like that. A website should be made as complicated as necessary, and not one iota more.

Sizzle is there to impress the stupid. We want steak.

(Yes, that's elitist. *Someone* has to drive the boat; ought it not to be the best drivers?)

(Ok, it's self-important, too.

It's ok; it's just me.

So many things are just me.)
posted by baylink at 11:41 AM on May 4, 2000

> Tired? It wasn't even midnight yet...

There are other time zones in the world aside from PDT you know...
posted by megnut at 1:02 PM on May 4, 2000


I've never needed to notice that before, Meg. Thanks.
posted by baylink at 3:12 PM on May 4, 2000

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