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Official: Google Won't Offer Option To Restore "Classic Google" Look

As I covered in my article about Google’s new look, while the new design appears to have been widely accepted without complaint, there are some who want “old” or “Classic Google” back. Google tells me that’s not going to happen. But there is an unofficial way to force the old look to appear, for those who dislike the change.

Given that millions of people — heck, hundreds of millions of people — have used Google since the new look appeared last Wednesday, there’s been virtually no outcry about it. No “I hate Google’s new look” group on Facebook getting tons of attention. No widespread media reporting of complaints. No massive blogger outcry as we saw when the now-defunct SearchWiki launched at the end of November 2008.

Personally, I love the new design. Even if others don’t love it, the masses sure don’t seem to hate it. Or if they do hate it, they’re quiet about it, mostly.

The only real outcry I’ve found is a long thread a reader pointed me to in Google’s own help forums, where people are begging for a way to get back to the old design. I also found another long thread here. Some selected comments:

For the love of God, PLEASE give us the option of going back to the old version. Simplistic used to be what made google great. But the new cluttered look feels cramped. I’m only looking at the middle pane with the results anyway. If you want to refine the search or what have you, that’s what the advanced button is for.

Why is it so hard to simply give users an option to hide the sidebar.  We don’t need the clutter.  I never ever ever utilized the “Show Options” before, but now you are going to force it down my throat?

Wow…I love how Google has contradicted everything the site was founded on…I love that after all these years they give in, and conform to greedy corporations (it was inevitable). If this layout does not change, I will not be using Google. The only reason I used Google in the first place is because they gave the community and un-cluttered, simple to use, simple search engine, rather than give us options in a sidebar that we didn’t ask for. You Google, as a corporation, have now discredited yourselves by contradicting the whole purpose of the site in its entirety.

Just give me the possibility to turn it off … and I’m happy.

So how about it? Will Google provide an option to turn off the new look? I asked on Friday afternoon and got an answer back on Saturday from Google spokesperson Nate Tyler:

We’re not offering a way to revert back to the old design.

That’s about what I expected. When Google’s had design changes in the past that people have disliked, it has generally stuck by its guns, warning that if Google provides opt-out options, people never get used to new features that they later grow to love. As I covered when this issue came up during the SearchWiki complaints:

But why not just let people opt-out if they want to, as they can opt-out from other Google products — or how they can use the search preferences page to control number of results shown, popping-open search listings in their own windows, enabling subscribed links and other options.

“While users don’t have the option of turning off SearchWiki, they do have the option not to use the feature. By turning off the feature entirely, people will never get used to the new offering or see how it might be useful to them. We encourage people to try it out,” Dupont said.

I suppose. To some degree, we saw this after Google Universal Search rolled out last year. Some people kept asking for a way to turn it off. Today, I rarely hear that voiced.

Google personalized search is a better example. Some people — especially search marketers — wanted a way to toggle it on or off. Google didn’t care. At best, it advised a way to hack out the URL as a way to do it. Various third party tools are out there that allow this, as well.

Basically, in my experience, Google won’t let you override things it considers crucial to its own bottom line. Google has viewed things like Universal Search, SearchWiki and now its new look as so essential to a good user experience that doesn’t allow users to override them.

It could. Easily. Indeed, want to have 100 results at a time? That’s long been a permanent option you can enable using Search Settings. But want “Classic” Google? Adding a similar option would probably be easy to do. Google just doesn’t want to do it. And I still find that a shame, not to give some users the choice. At the very least, providing an option would allow a small number of Google users to take their time to grow used to the new look that supposedly they’ll love over time.

It might also be less embarrassing if Google decides it has made a mistake, as in the case of SearchWiki. Over and over, we were told the testing proved people love it. And yet in the end, Google killed the feature based on feedback that people didn’t like it.

Still, there’s some hope for those who like Classic Google. Bookmark this link:


This tip came from How to access the old Google Search. No hacks or scripts required over at The Next Web, and it works great. You’ll get all the search options shown in the new look, except these remain hidden within a left column that only appears when you want it (as things used to work, explained more here).

For related news, see Techmeme.

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