Poll: Do You Like Google's New Background Images?

UPDATED: They say you should never mess with a good thing, but that’s exactly what Google appears to have done by adding background images to its default search page. For the next 24 hours, Google is featuring images from Dale Chihuly, Jeff Koons, Tom Otterness,  Yann Arthus-Bertrand and National Geographic, to name a few. This Bing-ification — Microsoft has also displayed artwork on its search engine — is the subject of today’s water-cooler talk, as people seem to either love it or hate it. I personally prefer a lean and mean look without such images (although I use Google’s Chrome browser and search directly in the address bar, so I rarely visit Google.com directly).

Unfortunately, after a few minutes of futzing, I see no easy way to go back to the old standard of no image. Google support indicates there’s a “Change Background Image” link at the bottom right, but none of the options currently include setting the page to no image. The closest I saw to the plain old Google page is choosing the White background, but even that isn’t right — the Google logo is transparent and links have shadows. I anticipate Google will add a no-image option fairly quickly, because the company tends to allow for choice rather than lock-in when it comes to user interface and features. Until then, however, I’m stuck looking at floating globes and lily pads when I really want to be looking at a clean entry form for fast search results.

[polldaddy poll=3327392]

Clearly, there are more pressing issues in the world than Google’s background image implementation, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask your opinion on the matter, as Google owns the lion’s share of search. While you think it over, enjoy some of these choice quotes from Google support threads on the matter:

  • aspenjohnson: “Google, are you listening? You’re freaking us out! I like the simplicity of Google. Everything else on the Web is too busy and complicated. It was nice to at least start searching from a simple and peaceful place. It’s like catching your dear, sweet Grandmother in way too much make-up, and a bright red négligé! Forcing us to see that, even just once, is too much.”
  • Arcadi7609: “Hate Hate Hate the background image. I LIKE having a blank white page for my search. It’s nice; it’s simple and no nonsense. It means this page will get the job done and not pose unwanted distractions while it’s doing it. If I’d wanted to use Bing, I would have gone to Bing.com. I have a ‘Change Background Image’ link, but there’s no option to remove. Ugh!”
  • staticlean: “WTH Google!! Why are you forcing every new thing on us???  No Options??  I am starting to get sick of this!!!  I hate your everything tool bar that is redundant.  I hate this background crap.  Who is the idiot that makes the decisions for this stuff???  This elitist attitude needs to stop!!!”

Update: As some commenters have noted, Google has reverted back to the standard, no-image background. However, the “Change background image” is still available in the bottom left of the search page. You are now able to add an image and then remove it back to the plain, image-free look as a result. Score one for choice, which is mainly what the issue was for most commenters. As of this time, Google hasn’t updated its post on the new feature to reflect this change. Now that things are back to normal, we’ll close our poll — nearly 75% of the respondents ought to be happy because they didn’t like the forced background image.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Why Mobile Search is Still Anyone’s Game

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