Google Image Search Redesign


Image search has evolved. Google needs to keep up. Hiding useful information is not the way to do it.

Like Google Web Search, Google Image Search remained relatively unchanged since its inception, until late January 2007 when they “redesigned” and hid most of the useful information that was displayed alongside images. Image Search results now show only the thumbnail and a short contextual snippet for each result. To get the file size, dimensions, format and domain, you have to mouse over the image.

Google Image Search screenshot

Meanwhile, tagging is quickly becoming a standard for image findability, image recognition technology has drastically improved, and the web audience is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Google is also expanding other products such as Google News and Picasa, services rich in images that can be integrated into image search results. And Google redesigns by hiding useful information. My question for Google is simple: why so lame?

That’s easy for me to say, but to walk the talk I thought I’d try my hand at redesigning Google Image Search myself. I started by asking myself: if I was the interaction designer for Google Image Search, what aspects of the service would I focus on?

I appreciated the simplicity of the previous results as they met the needs of most users, but power users or those who want to use more sophisticated functionality may have found the image results inadequate. This reflects the core idea behind my thinking: maintain the simplicity of the current image search while providing more advanced features for those who require them.

Designing the solution: the new views

My solution involved creating two image result views: simple view and detail view. Simple view provides results and features that will meet the needs of most image searches. It includes features such as integrated Google News results (these could also be results from a personal Picasa library), labels and a related labels navigation. Detail view includes all of the features of simple view (beyond the news results) but expands the description and tools available to the user. Following is a list of all changes:

Simple view:

  • Integrated Google News Images or images from the user’s Picasa image library
  • Concise image information and labels for further refinement

Detail view:

  • Up to three lines of surrounding text providing more context for each image
  • Expanded labels and URLs
  • Link to Google Image Labeler directly from search results
  • Links to find similar images or note the image using Google Notebook
  • A powerful similar image search tool

Other points worth mentioning:

  • Both views contain the most relevant related labels near the top of the results for quick refinement
  • You can sort by relevance (the default), date or image size within both views

Check it out

Disclaimer: This exercise is for educational purposes only. Google owns its trademark and copyright.

Note: while I highly value web standards and semantic HTML, I’m sorry to say that The HTML probably doesn’t validate, tables are used for layout and there at least 67 font tags in the search results. In the interest of time and energy, I focused on the interface of the Image Search results in this redesign and consequently used much of Google’s original HTML and CSS. If I gave myself a full week to complete this, I would have spent more time on the CSS and HTML. Apologies in advance, but please don’t email me and ask me why I didn’t use semantic HTML and/or CSS for every aspect of layout and presentation.

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