Google (GOOG) unveiled a major redesign of its Google Images search page Tuesday, aiming to provide users with a faster way to find the right image with fewer clicks. For Google, the move marks its largest redesign since its images site launched in 2001, and also comes at time the search giant faces greater competition from Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing.
Under the redesign, which launched Tuesday morning and will be fully rolled out within the week, a user going to Google Images can punch in a keyword search and receive up to 1,000 photos and images on a single page, reducing the number of pages to click to find the right image, said Ben Ling, Google's director of search products, during a press conference at the company's San Francisco offices.
Once on the results page, a user will be able to hover over an image, which will then pop up as a larger thumbnail image with more descriptive information than is currently available on Google, which currently provides only the website where the image came from.
"This makes me confident that this is the right search for me and I can then click-through knowing that I'll get what I want," says Nate Smith, product manager for Google Images.
After an image is clicked on, users will then go to the website where it came from and the image itself will be larger, and front-and-center on the page. If users want information regarding the image, they can click anywhere on the website, which will be in the background behind the image, and go to the source website, said Smith. He noted that particular feature was fairly easy to design. Determining what users actually needed from their image searches, by contrast, was a far lengthier process.
In addition to boosting speed and comprehensiveness in the redesign, Google also added a feature for advertisers that lets them offer up image ads on its Google Images page, rather than just text-based ads.
Fighting Back Against Bing
Google's changes come as Microsoft's Bing has increased its share of the search market. Bing, for example, also offers the ability to see reams of photos and images on a single page, although it has yet to feature some of the additions that come with Google's redesign.
In addressing the competitive landscape, Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, said Google Images has a better interface and a better handle on presenting the images and thumbnails. She declined to comment on the depth of Google's barrier to entry given its dominant position in the search business, or on how long it might take for Bing to catch up on some of these features.
Just last month, Google conducted an experiment with its search page that some observers noted bore striking similarities to Bing, which places a single large image in the background of its search page. Google was hit with a blizzard of complaints from its users when it conducted an experiment and splashed images across its own search page, at first offering no explanation for the change or how users could switch back to the simple white page. In the wake of the criticism, it quickly reverted back to its original white search page, though it offered the users the ability to activate the full-screen images if they desired.
Despite gains that Microsoft has made with its search efforts since unveiling Bing, Google Images has rapidly grown the number of its indexed pages since its debut nine years ago.
In 2001, Google had 250 million indexed search images, over 1 billion in 2005, and currently has over 10 billion indexed images, said Ling.
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