Google Facelift?

By dbaodbao (1261536848|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Google is constantly tweaking and updating itself to continually improve the search experience for users. I recently discovered that Google plans to implement a new and improved user interface in this article and set out to try it for myself. Although this upgrade, named Caffeine, will not be publicly available for everyone until January, it has been released for a limited number of users. However, some people have found a way for everyone to try it and I'm sharing the love. Instructions are at the bottom of this post for those interested in checking out Google's new UI. According to Google developers, the main improvements of Caffeine will be improved speed in searching and indexing the web to compete with efforts from Bing and Yahoo Search to overtake Google's dominant position in the search industry.

First Impressions

The first thing you notice is that now the main search options are now in a panel on the left side of the screen. You still have the same options that were previously on the top of the screen - but Google has made manipulating your search a little bit more maneuverable. You have options for what kind of search you want to perform - you can choose whether you're looking for everything, or specifically news, images, books, blogs, or a number of other options. If you choose a specific medium, obviously Google will only display those kind of results. If you choose everything, Google gives you a preview of each of the types of results. Google gives you headings: a few news results, a few blog results and a book results. Another new feature that I noticed is the integration of time search into the search home page (and not just with the news search.) You can choose how recent your search results are. When you choose to search within a particular medium of results, like Books, Google gives you further options that pop up in the left panel for you to refine your results. When looking for books in particular, you have the options for what kind of view (preview or full) as well as what document (books or magazines.) There are similar options for video search and the other modes.

Many of the different types of search we learned about in this class have now been aggregated in one central location with Caffeine. You no longer have to perform a search repeatedly to return different types of results - Google endeavors to do it all for you in one convenient location.

One thing that I did notice was that ads seem to take up significantly more space than they used to. Developers have described Caffeine's new layout as a 3-paneled (from left to right: menu, results and ads.) However, there seems to be additional white space to the right of the ads (almost enough for a fourth panel.) I didn't particularly like how the space for results appears to have shrunk while ads get more space on the page.

New Search Tools!

Also on the vertical panel, Google has options for new search tools. These options that used to be less accessible are now alongside every search that you perform. There are options for pages (previously viewed or not), different views and layouts for searches now.


From what I've noticed in my exploring, it seems that the main difference is in the increased ability to easily customize and refine your results to return relevant results. Instead of having to go into the menu bar to modify your results, you now have greater control of how you want to view your search results. However, in exploring the differences between the new and old google (running them both in different browsers), I did find a few things that disappeared in Caffeine. One feature called "Wonderwheel", that I hadn't even known existed, can no longer be found in the new Google.
Wonder wheel was introduced earlier this year, and generates visually related searches in a wheel of wonder! One really nice thing about wonder wheel is that no ads show up on the page when you are using it. I'd never this before, but now I'm seeing that it potentially be useful in general searches where you don't have a specific result in mind. Maybe it's just hidden in the new google, but I have yet to find it. I highly doubt that this new interface will revolutionize the search engine industry the way that the original Google did, but it certainly makes the search process more user-oriented and easy to manipulate. Test it out and if you don't like it, you can always go back to the current interface (at least until the change becomes permanent.)

Try it out for yourself!

And if you want to check this out for yourself, here's how:

  • Go to the Google Home page
  • Enter this into your browser:


  • Enjoy!
  • To go back to normal Google, just clear your cookies!
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