Is Google About to Launch a Design Overhaul?

By Brodie Clark

November 27, 2018

google testing new design features

A few months back, Google began testing a new design for Desktop. The main changes that were discovered included a rounded search bar (1), a smaller logo (2), and also a sticky header (3) which sticks to the top of the screen as you scroll down.

More recently, Google started showing this same test to a wider set of users. Although the design changes that are now being tested are far more widespread than the 3 items that have been previously reported on.

Looking at the screenshot above, let’s walk our way through some of the different items I’ve been slowly discovering.

Top stories surrounding border has been removed

It seems that a component of this test has changed the border that surrounds the ‘Top stories’ feature. The feature now blends in more with the generic Organic listing results, although with a divider line separating each individual story.

top stories test

Shadow removed from a variety of other SERP features

Similar to the changes we have seen with the search bar, the shadow at the bottom of some SERP features has been removed completely for a more flat looking design. The change seems to be appearing for the Knowledge Panel, Featured Snippets, PLA’s, PASF answers, and many other features.

The only SERP feature I found that didn’t have this design change in the test I was exposed to was the Explore Panel (which is a cross between a KP and FS, as coined by Rank Ranger).

In this same screenshot above you can see that Google has also made a change to the listing claim call-to-action. This particular CTA has changed a fair bit since the feature launched half way through this year. It began as “Do you manage the online presence for [insert entity name]” to “Claim this knowledge panel” featuring a blue tick, and in this test being similar with different design elements.

Google Shopping changes to PLA’s at the top of search results

The final design change I’ve noticed that’s a part of this test relates to how Product Listing Ads are displayed when placed at the top of search results.

Google Shopping PLA's test

As mentioned previously, the shadow removal that applies to almost all SERP features is apparent here too. The big change is that the PLA’s are now spaced across two rows, as opposed to previously being on a single expandable row.

Out of all the changes that I found Google was testing, this is definitely the most significant out of the lot. Taking up more vertical space in the SERPs gives the PLA’s more prominence, which could result in more engagement for the businesses exposed to the test.

Why is Google testing so many changes at once?

Tests like the one discussed in this article are nothing new. Although it’s interesting to see Google continue to expose users to this particular widespread test, which is primarily focused on design updates.

Let’s wait and see which changes get the tick of approval from the testing team at the big G. Which update do you like best?

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