Rethinking Google's Banner Area




One interesting design problem that's presented when dealing with critically accessed pages like Google is tradeoff. Meaning: An interface feature that could add weight to the page could place significant stress on overall bandwidth and server resources owing to the large number of downloads.

For fun, I just wanted to see if I could achieve a balance between the addition of event-based-feedback and Fitts'-Law improvements and the resultant total character weight. I found, surprisingly, that I could make some changes and actually lighten the page.

The changes and their net weight change:

  1. Moved logo to root (-7 chars)
  2. Changed HREF of nav images anchors to no slash (-12 chars)
  3. Changed button value from "Google Search" to "Search" (-14 chars)
  4. Changed logo size from 200x76 to 158x60 (-424 bytes)
  5. Changed cellpadding of the tabs TABLE from 0 to 2 (No weight change)
  6. Removed dark gray cells in the tabs TABLE (-310 chars)
  7. Added underline hover to tabs TABLE links (+38 chars)
  8. Added "tt" id to top links cell and added bottom padding (+31 chars)

Net weight change: Trimmed about 1KB. (Specifically: around 698-972 bytes depending on the character set of the page.)

I also altered some HTML and CSS to mimic what I suspect is the result of server-side application logic regarding Netscape 4 and charset ISO-8859-1. These changes would not actually have to be implemented for the above changes to work.

  1. Changed charset in META from UTF-8 to ISO-8859-1 (+5 chars, this setup only)
  2. Added comments to hide Netscape-breaking CSS (+9 chars, this setup only)
This experiment brought to you by Massless.

Old (expand this)

Already a fantastic page.

New (expand this)

What's different?
  1. The tabs have more padding.
  2. The tabs have right-margins.
  3. The tabs links have a hover underline.*
  4. The results start higher.
  5. The Search button has less text.
The banner refactoring page was tested on IE4, IE5.0, IE 5.5, IE 6.0, Netscape 4, IE 5.2 Mac, Safari 1, Opera 7, and Mozilla 1.5.
*The link hovers only work on version 5 browsers and up.