Here’s Google’s Homepage 1999 vs. 2012. Can You Tell The Difference?

Today’s design lesson:  Don’t change what’s working.  Here are two screenshots of Google’s homepage; one from May 1999 and one from January 2012.  See much difference?



May 1999 was almost 13 years ago!  The web has changed dramatically since then, yet Google’s search experience hasn’t.  This is a huge lesson for anyone looking to get traction.  One of the most difficult aspects of brining a product to market is user education – meaning after they hear about your product how easily do they start using it.  It’s important because when a user knows how to use a product or service they will tell others about it.

If they can’t use it, they won’t tell anyone.  It’s that simple.

Google has done many thing correctly, but arguably the best was to design their user interface so anyone could use it.  I bet your Grandma knows how to use Google.  I bet your child knows as well.

Can you say that about your web or mobile service?  Are you making it as easy as possible to use your product?


Add yours →

  1. You can’t tell a book by it’s cover. To their credit, Google has stuck to their vision of simplicity (as shown in this post), but under the covers, the 2012 web page is vastly more advanced than it was a child of the ’90s (with dynamic, Ajaxy, HTML5-ish technologies running in the browser client) and its completely revamped back-end… with several magnitudes more compute power and content behind that white page.

    And the subtle links off to Google’s social network and apps belie a vast number of additional advanced technologies.

    It’s kind of like CostCo keeping its hotdogs at $1.50, from the beginning… that is no indicator of the advancements that have gone on all aroud.


    • For sure Bill! By no means was I referring to Google not changing anything. And that is basically my point… the fact that so much has changed under the hood but to my Grandma it all seems the same. That, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to develop a loyal following of users. Make it easy to use your product… and keep it easy.


  2. Excellent example of not changing for the sake of change regardless of what the change gurus tell us:-) Thanks for sharing it.


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