Google’s Facelift: Meet the new “nav-bar”

May 5, 2010

Google’s Web search engine is getting a bit of a facelift.

The company said on Wednesday that Web surfers will begin to see a new column of tools running down the left side of all their search results, as well as a slightly new look for Google’s famous multicolor logo (the shadows on the Google logo will be less pronounced).

The logo redesign probably won’t excite anyone but the most obsessive corporate branding wonks, but the new left-hand navigation bar represents Google’s latest effort to evolve its search engine to the changing nature of the Web and the competition.

GOOGNAVBAR Google’s new left-hand tool bar presents a slew of options that allow web surfers to filter their search results according to various categories of information indexed in its massive databases, from blog posts to videos.

The selection of options changes according to each search query: a search for “NFL draft” for instance, delivers a navigation bar that allows the user to view the latest “Updates” (in which the search results are heavy on real-time fare like Twitter messages), as well as search results that include only “blogs” or “news.”

A search for “red shoes” produces options for filtering results to include only “Images,” “Books,” “Videos,” and “Shopping.”

The move comes as Yahoo and Microsoft have increasingly focused on refining the user experience for Web search – Microsoft’s Bing has focused on specific search areas such as travel and shopping; Yahoo has discussed organizing search results around a “Web of things” in which a search for a celebrity like Tom Cruise could also return photos and links to related people like Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes.

But even as Yahoo and Microsoft try to distinguish their search sites, Google, the world’s No.1 search engine, continues to roll out its own innovations.

A Google search for Rolling Stones could deliver information in the left-hand toolbar about other classic rock bands from the1960s and 1970s including Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix, according to a Google.

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