It's the tax you pay on window size. The first time I
used Google this morning, I noticed that its search-result
lines had become irritatingly short, so that I must widen
my browser window. As this now took up more
space, I had to keep shoving it and other windows around
so that I could see everything on my screen
that I needed to. Here
is the new Google, and you can see that the
lines are shorter because
of a new left-hand column:
There isn't a lot in that column:
Why are videos so important? Anyway, clicking on the More under Videos inserts seven options — Images, Maps, News, Books, Blogs, Updates, Discussions — under it. These largely duplicate the options along the top of the page. Clicking on More search tools inserts Fewer shopping sites, More shopping sites, Page previews, and Translated search. Fewer shopping sites doesn't mean none, I note: with it enabled, I've just searched for "Pullover". The first shopping site, www.shopstyle.com, appeared as result number 7, offering me sweaters, jackets, sportswear and other clothing. How do Google decide which shopping sites make it into the few?
But my point is that Google now force me to scroll horizontally, or to push windows around, in exchange for not much benefit from the screen space they've taken away. In user-interface design, such actions are called excise: the effort a user must spend in manipulating the user interface, rather than in accomplishing a task. By running their options along the top of the page as a second line, couldn't Google have avoided this particular excise tax?