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The Interface Evolves

By - January 05, 2005

Googleimage05Philip at Google Blogoscoped notices that Google is testing incorporating image thumbnails into its web searches. This represents an evolution of Google’s sacred SERP interface – the company has already begun to incorporate News, Froogle, and other “smart” search results at the top of some queries, a la Yahoo.

I have not been able to duplicate this, it could just be an ephemeral test, not to be incorporated. A9 has a nifty approach to images, where you can turn images off or on as part of a multi-framed interface.

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14 thoughts on “The Interface Evolves

  1. Thanks John, somehow above URL got corrupted… there’s a “%” which should be a “#”…

  2. aaron wall says:

    a few others have noticed this as well

    when I use FireFox from my central PA location and search for Chong it shows 3 pictures in the search results with the third one being a bong.

    images have got to be easy to spam

  3. dread says:

    interesting google are trying this out. ask jeeves invented this way of triggering and combining image and web results dynamically and launched it back in april 2003.

  4. funnyname says:

    maybe they should fix the awful awful google image search before they pr0n up the normal serp’s and get gazillions of complaints from irrate parents huh?


  5. Bob Myers says:

    You’re so right–the search interface is an absolutely key area for innoviation in search. There is so much room for improvement, even beyond something incremental like adding thumbnails to results.

    I think “user interface” will join “personalization” and “coverage” in the list of key trends in search for 2005.

    Our own contribution to this is a dedicated search panel, which has gotten excellent feedback and you can check out at This is an end-user version but a number of engines and content sites are working on customized versions as well.

    Bob Myers

  6. Manu Sharma says:

    John, this post is slightly confusing because it seems, as someone commenting above said, that Google is adding thumbnails to search results. They are not.

    It’s not an evolution of the SERP interface because the changes don’t touch the results. All Google is doing is incorporating the first few image results on top of web results. Just as they incorporate results from products, news, books and so on. This is a feature to familiarise users with other search categories and make them easier to access. Because many ordinary users never go beyond web results. Putting these category results on top of web Google is addressing these users. It’s like they’re saying, “Hey, you can also do this…”

    Not many may remember but three years ago Google Labs featured a product that showed you thumbnails with each result. Thumbnails of result page are almost never very helpful. And they cost download time, which is very expensive on the results page. The product was later shelved.

    I’ve personally used at least two other products that tried thumbnails but never became popular. One showed you a thumbnail preview of a page as you hovered over a link. Another added thumbnails to Google results page itself. A quick visit to google reveals there are many more.

  7. @Manu: Ask did some research which indicates people actually find thumbs very useful. See:

  8. Manu Sharma says:

    Very useful? Have you read the 84-page report? One of the results was, “In the likelihood to make Ask Jeeves their primary search engine, the bulk of both groups

  9. just a quick FYI – those not wanting to wait for Google to add thumbnails can use the McSP plugin for Firefox that drops Alexa thumbnails into Google searches, among other sites. i’m a big fan.

  10. Manu Sharma says:

    To add to what I said above, there is at least one scenario in which thumbnails can be really useful – when searching for a site you’ve visited before.

  11. Dan says:

    Hmm, isn’t this which is now (apparently Google didn’t like their name in the original site)

  12. Dean says:

    Where will all this end with Google?

  13. Wendy Tinley says:

    Google is God… for now… 🙂