Blog Post

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 (s goog) 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 (s msft) 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 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 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

38 Responses to “Poll: Do You Like Google's New Background Images?”

  1. Ummm… I like the new background, but more than anything I don’t understand people “hating” it. Google still functions just fine. There really isn’t cause for so much emotion over a white background over one you can play with and put pictures on. Are we all that wrapped up in our computers and that out of touch with reality? Are our priorities that messed up?

  2. I liked the background. It was nice seeing something a little bright and beautiful. It was different every time I went to Google and then it all switched back to the white. What was everyone having a fit about?

  3. This was supposed to be a 1-day ONLY promotion to show people that they can have background images. I am perfectly okay with Google trying this 1-day promotion to publicize the new feature. A LOT less people would have noticed and used the feature if it was just a tiny linked tucked away in a corner. Would have been nice if Google gave an easy option of turning off the image though.

    I am one of the people who likes plain classic Google. But many of my (female) friends seemed to like it. Also a lot of people are getting creative with it. Expect some fun screenshots to be posted on the Internet shortly.

  4. Wow! So many stuck-in-the-mud comments. The change woke me up — I said, “What is Google up to?”

    Why attack Google for going out of their comfort zone and trying something different? I’m thrilled to see that they “allowed” a Google employee to EXPERIMENT with this idea.

    I think they’ve struck a good balance by offering the option to opt for the pristine white background — or choose from a gallery.

    Good work Google! Glad to see you are giving yourself permission to change and evolve.

  5. The art director of google’s opening page is brilliantly talented, tasteful, whimsical, with a healthy sense of humor!!!

    “Don’t fix it unless it’s broke!” You’re superior to superficial Stay focused on improving search options, etc.

    Thank you.

    Thank goodness you are responsive to the people,…and thank goodness, enough of them have taste. Please always give us options if you are planning changes. We, the people like to operate on “automatic.” We don’t want to figure out how to do things at every turn. For many of us, the internet is not a toy but rather a serious working tool that we depend on.
    If anything, refine “google docso that it is interchangeable with word!

  6. Philip

    Well, if there’s one thing that Google is good at then it’s listening to its users. Now, when a background picture is used, the bottom corner link changes to “Remove background image” instead of “Change background image”. Actually, this was also the functionality of the link before it changed its name.

    And please don’t give me the nonsense that Google is going Bing! All Google has done is empowering users to select a nice/personal background IF THEY WANT TO. Bing on the other hand is forcing all its @#&% down our throats in the usual Microsoft way (think Hotmail adds etc.)

  7. ok. i think i just figured out that you get the stupid images if you are logged into an account. log out of your google account and you get a plain white background.