Google redesign adds ‘Google Bar’ to its homepage

1 Dec 2011

Google’s redesign is almost complete and one of the finishing touches is the addition of the distinctive Google bar that Google+, Gmail and Reader users are familiar with to the Google homepage.

Ultimately, the purpose of the redesign is to future-proof Google to continue to be a valuable resource beyond the PC and to work seamlessly as users move from PCs to tablet computers, smartphones and web-connected TVs.

The new-look homepage sports a smaller Google logo and with links moved to the edges of the browser screen it certainly looks cleaner and fresher. But the glaringly obvious change is the addition of the Google Bar that we’ve become familiar with via Google+ and that has been stealthily deployed on other core services, like Gmail and Google Reader.

Google Bar is Google’s stealth weapon

The Google Bar, I think, is a stealth weapon in Google’s armoury. There are few people on the web today that don’t search via Google, but with a mechanism to sign in and access other products constantly there at the top of the screen, Google will lure potentially millions more users for its various services. More users mean more advertising dollars, too, let’s not forget that peeps.

Google’s digital creative director Chris Wiggins explains that Google’s design philosophy is to combine power with simplicity.

“We want to keep our look simple and clean, but behind the seemingly simple design, use new technologies like HTML5, WebGL and the latest, fastest browsers to make sure you have all the power of the web behind you.”

Last year, Google revamped its search results and if you think about it, over the past two years change has been constant when you consider the addition of real-time, instant searches and tweets from Twitter.

The addition of the Google Bar at the top of its homepage is a pretty good metaphor for new CEO Larry Page’s vision, which is to axe certain products, refine other products and create a smoother way to keep the user engaged in terms of social media and various other online activities as they hop from device to device.

The same thing is happening across a lot of different platforms. Microsoft, for example, is espousing a ‘three screens’ vision of PC, mobile and TV that is transcending core products, such as Xbox 360. As products like Kinect make their way into the PC world, Microsoft stands a good chance of closing the circle.

For Google, the addition of the Google Bar on its homepage is its strongest statement of intent yet in terms of grabbing a greater share of regular users of its services and keeping them hooked to its network. My only question is, when will the Google Bar find its way to YouTube?

Below: How Google’s homepage looked in 1997


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years