A Google designer takes us inside Search’s mobile redesign

The beginning of a new year inspires people everywhere to make changes. It’s when many of us take stock of our lives, our careers or even just our surroundings and think about what improvements we can make. That’s also been the case for Google designer Aileen Cheng. Aileen recently led a major visual redesign of the mobile Search experience, which rolls out in the coming days. “We wanted to take a step back to simplify a bit so people could find what they’re looking for faster and more easily,” she says. “I find it really refreshing. To me, it’s a breath of fresh air!” 

Like all organizing efforts, this one came with its challenges. “Rethinking the visual design for something like Search is really complex,” Aileen says. “That’s especially true given how much Google Search has evolved. We’re not just organizing the web’s information, but all the world’s information,” Aileen says. “We started with organizing web pages, but now there’s so much diversity in the types of content and information we have to help make sense of.” 

Image showing a mock-up of a Pixel phone with Google Search pulled up on the screen. The search results show answers about Humpback whales, including two images.

We recently had the chance to learn more about the new look from Aileen, as well as the process. Here are five things that drove the redesign: 

1. Bringing information into focus. “We want to let the search results shine, allowing people to focus on the information instead of the design elements around it,” says Aileen. “It’s about simplifying the experience and getting people to the information they’re looking for as clearly and quickly as possible.” 

2. Making text easier to read. One way the team did this was by using larger, bolder text, so the human eye can scan and understand Search results faster. “We’re making the result and section titles bigger, as well,” Aileen says. While we’re on the subject of text: The update also includes more of Google’s own font, which already shows up in Android and Gmail, among other Google products. “Bringing consistency to when and how we use fonts in Search was important, too, which also helps people parse information more efficiently,” Aileen explains. 

Image showing a phone with Google Search pulled up on the screen. The search query is for "running spots sf."

3. Creating more breathing room. “We decided to create a new edge-to-edge results design and to minimize the use of shadows, making it easier to immediately see what you’re looking for,” says Aileen. “The overall effect is that you have more visual space and breathing room for Search results and other content to take center stage.”

4. Using color to highlight what’s important. Aileen says that some other iterations of the redesign experimented with using lots of bold colors, and others tried more muted tones. They weren’t quite right, though, and ultimately the team focused on centering content and images against a clean background and using color more intentionally to guide the eye to important information without being overwhelming or distracting. “It has an optimistic feel, too,” Aileen says.  

5. Leaning into that “Googley” feeling. If you’re noticing the new design feels a little bubblier and bouncier, you’re onto something. “If you look at the Google logo, you’ll notice there’s a lot of roundness to it, so we’re borrowing from that and bringing it to other places as well,” says Aileen. You’ll see that in parts of this redesign, like in rounded icons and imagery. “That form is already so much a part of our DNA. Just look at the Search bar, or the magnifying glass,” Aileen points out.

Image showing Google logo with design effects pointing to its roundness.

Part of the work is also in refreshing the look while remaining familiar. “My three-year-old recently dropped a handful of Legos in my hand, red, yellow, green, blue, and he told me, ‘Mama, this is Google,’” Aileen says. “That’s how playful and well known we are to people. And when we redesign something, we want to bring that familiarity and approachability with us, too.”

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Introducing Google News performance report

Today we are launching Google News performance reporting to help news publishers better understand user behavior on Google News on our Android and iOS apps, as well as on news.google.com.

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Index Coverage Data Improvements

Based on the feedback we got from the community, today we are rolling out significant improvements to the Index Coverage report so you’re better informed on issues that might prevent Google from crawling and indexing your pages. The change is focused on providing a more accurate state to existing issues, which should help you solve them more easily.

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El productor Peter Cottentale captura el 2020 en una canción

Echa un vistazo a la canción “Together”, la pista de acompañamiento de “El año en búsquedas” …

En un año como ningún otro, sabíamos que la campaña 2020 de Year in Search tendría que adoptar un enfoque único. Cada año, los datos de Google Trends reflejan no solo las consultas diarias, sino también los momentos, las personas y las ideas que definieron ese año. Inspirado por los datos de Tendencias del año, el productor musical Peter Cottontale creó la canción destacada en Year in Search.

Peter Cottontale

Peter es un productor y músico ganador del GRAMMY por su trabajo con Chance the Rapper. Él mismo lanzó su primer solo álbum, CATCH, a principios de este año. También ha colaborado con artistas de todo el mundo durante la última década como compositor, productor y director musical, así como también como artista destacado principalmente en los teclados. El nativo de Chicago tiene un lugar especial en su corazón para trabajar con artistas de su ciudad natal.

Peter escribió y produjo la canción “Together” en colaboración con Chance the Rapper, Cynthia Erivo, el Chicago Children’s Choir, Matt Jones (de Re-Collective Orchestra), Rachel Robinson y Jamila Woods. “Juntos” reconoce las angustias y los desafíos del 2020, así como la necesidad de que las comunidades se unan. Al final, la canción de Peter transmite un mensaje de esperanza.

Nos sentamos con Peter para aprender más sobre su proceso creativo, por qué esta canción significaba tanto para él y la importancia de elevar las voces negras.

¿Qué inspiró Together?

Después de escuchar sobre los planes para “El Año en Búsquedas”, el contexto y la visión del proyecto realmente se destacaron. Desde problemas de salud hasta el foco en la lucha de la comunidad negra, se sintió como la forma correcta de ayudar a contextualizar, aumentar la representación y crear oportunidades para todos los involucrados a través de la campaña “El Año en Búsquedas” de Google. Mi esperanza es que mostrar oportunidades para artistas negros con Google genere más oportunidades y otros proyectos en el futuro.

Cuéntanos sobre tu proceso creativo.

Tuvimos reuniones iniciales para discutir lo que el 2020 ha significado para las personas. El elenco de personas involucradas en la creación de la música y la película eran, si no líderes, rodeados de líderes que, a su manera, están impulsando el cambio en la comunidad. También se trataba de dar esperanza a todos y un poco de celebración también. Queríamos mostrar que trabajando juntos, creciendo juntos, lo superaremos.

¿Cómo seleccionaste el talento que te ayudó a hacer realidad tu visión?

En un año en el que la atención se centró en las mujeres negras, quería mostrar y destacar a las increíbles artistas y escritoras negras. Trabajé con Jamila Woods y Young Chicago Authors para desarrollar algunos de los primeros conceptos para el disco. Cynthia Erivo, una artista increíble y mujer negra, fue la vocalista femenina destacada en la pista. También incluimos artistas negros de una variedad de géneros y experiencias diferentes. Para capturar realmente la esencia de este año, le pedimos al Coro de Niños de Chicago que se uniera al proyecto. La historia de justicia social de la organización y su esfuerzo por unir voces jóvenes de diferentes orígenes a través de canciones realmente me inspiraron.

¿Qué impacto ha tenido este año en ti, tanto a nivel personal como profesional?

Este año ha sido el año más loco de mi vida hasta ahora sin duda, y estoy seguro de que otros también sienten lo mismo. Aprendí a operar mi estudio de grabación en medio de cierres, con sesiones virtuales y otras herramientas. Tuve que ponerme realmente creativo sobre cómo lanzar mi propia música y marca. Estuve en las calles la mayor parte del verano junto a los líderes comunitarios, sirviendo y ampliando el trabajo de amigos a mi alrededor que pasaron el verano protestando y luchando por la comunidad negra. Y, por supuesto, tuve que navegar y solucionar los retrasos en la producción causados por COVID-19, así que encontré diferentes formas de hacer las cosas y crecí en paciencia. A pesar de lo duro que ha sido este año, ha estado lleno de bendiciones y de muchas lecciones maravillosas. Estoy muy emocionado por el futuro.

¿Cuál es tu deseo para el futuro de la diversidad y la representación en los campos creativos y en la industria de la música?

Vaya, ¿tengo que elegir solo un deseo? Siempre deseo la progresión de la diversidad y el avance de la representación auténtica en las salas de escritores, los medios y el desarrollo de entornos basados en la cultura. Muy a menudo, la equidad se pierde en alguna parte, tanto para los no creativos como para los creativos. Los negros son una minoría desfavorecida que se ven afectados por la tergiversación a diario a nivel macro y micro. No podría resolver [esto] con un solo deseo.

Ahora que el 2020 llega a su fin, estamos emocionados de compartir “Together” con el mundo. Gracias, Peter y todos los involucrados en la realización de esta pieza musical tan necesaria.

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Producer Peter Cottentale captures 2020 in a song

Checkout the song, ‘Together,’ the backing track to Year in Search.

In a year unlike any other, we knew Google’s 2020 Year in Search campaign would need to take a unique approach. Each year, Google Trends data reflects not only everyday queries, but also the moments, people and ideas that defined that year. Inspired by the year’s Trends data, music producer Peter Cottontale created the song highlighted in Year in Search.

Peter is a GRAMMY–winning producer and musician for his work with Chance the Rapper.  He self released his first solo album, CATCH, earlier this year. He’s also collaborated with artists all over the world over the past decade as a composer, producer, and music director, as well as a featured artist primarily on keys. And the Chicago native has a special place in his heart for working with artists from his hometown.

Peter Cottontale

Peter wrote and produced the song “Together”in collaboration with Chance the Rapper, Cynthia Erivo, the Chicago Children’s Choir, Matt Jones (of Re-Collective Orchestra,) and Rachel Robinson and Jamila Woods. “Together” acknowledges 2020’s heartaches and challenges, as well as the need for communities to come together. Ultimately, Peter’s song delivers a message of hope.

We sat down with Peter to learn more about his creative process, why this song meant so much to him and the importance of lifting Black voices.

What inspired Together?

After hearing about the plans for Year in Search, the context and vision for the project really stood out. From health concerns to the spotlight on the Black struggle, it felt like the right way to help contextualize, increase representation and create opportunities for all of those involved through Google’s Year in Search campaign. My hope is that showcasing opportunities for Black artists with Google will lead to more opportunities and other projects down the road. 

Tell us about your creative process. 

We had initial meetings discussing what 2020 has meant to people. The cast of people involved in creating the music and the film were, if not leaders themselves, surrounded by leaders who in their own way are pushing for change in the community. It was also about giving everyone hope and a bit of celebration too. We wanted to show that by working together, growing together, we will get through this.

How did you select the talent that helped bring your vision to reality?

In a year where the focus has been on Black women, I wanted to showcase and highlight amazing Black women artists and writers.  I worked with Jamila Woods and Young Chicago Authors to develop some of the early concepts for the record. Cynthia Erivo, an amazing artist and Black woman,  was the featured female vocalist on the track. And we also included Black artists from a variety of different genres and experiences. To really capture the essence of this year, we asked the Chicago Children’s Choir to join the project. The organization’s social justice history and effort to bring young voices of different backgrounds together through song truly inspired me. 

What impact has this year had on you, both personally and professionally? 

This year has been the craziest year of my life so far for sure, and I’m sure others feel the same way too. I learned how to run and operate my recording studio in the middle of shutdowns, with virtual sessions and other offerings. I had to get really creative about how I rolled out my own music and merchandise. I was in the streets most of the summer alongside community leaders, serving and amplifying the work of friends around me who spent their summer protesting and fighting for Black Lives. And of course, I’ve had to navigate and work around production delays caused by COVID-19, so I’ve found different ways of getting things done, and grown in patience. As tough as this year has been, it has been full of blessings and so many great lessons. I’m really excited for the future.

What is your wish for the future of diversity and representation in creative fields and the music industry?

Wow, I have to pick one wish? I always wish for the progression of diversity and the advancement of authentic representation in writers rooms, media and development of culture-based environments.  So often, equity gets lost somewhere, for non-creatives and creatives alike. Black people are a disenfranchised minority who are affected by misrepresentation on a daily basis on macro and micro levels. I couldn’t possibly solve [this] with one wish.

As 2020 comes to an end, we are excited to share “Together” with the world. Thank you, Peter and everyone involved the making of this much needed piece of music.

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How location helps provide more relevant search results

There are many factors that play a role in providing helpful results when you search for something on Google. These factors help us rank or order results and can include the words of your query, the relevance or usability of web pages in our index, and the expertise of sources.

Location is another important factor to provide relevant Search results. It helps you find the nearest coffee shop when you need a pick-me-up, traffic predictions along your route, and even important emergency information for your area. In this post, we’ll share details about the vital role that location plays in generating great search results.

Finding businesses and services in your community

It’s a Friday night. You’re hungry and want some pizza delivered. If Google couldn’t consider location in search ranking, our results might display random pizza restaurants that are nowhere near you. With location information, we can better ensure you’re getting webpages and business listings about pizza places that are local and relevant to you.

The same is true for many types of businesses and services with physical locations, such as banks, post offices, restaurants or stores. Consider two people who search for zoos—one in Omaha, Nebraska and the other in Mobile, Alabama. Location information helps both get the right local information that they need:

Searches for "zoos" in Omaha, Nebraska and Mobile, Alabama

Same query, different local contexts

Location can matter even when you’re searching for something that doesn’t necessarily have a physical location. For example, a search for “air quality” in San Diego, California versus Tulsa, Oklahoma might lead you to pages with local information relevant to each area.

Searches for “air quality” in San Diego, California and Tulsa, Oklahoma

Similarly, certain information in Search can be more useful if it’s specific to your city or neighborhood. If you were to search Google for “parking information,” you might see information about municipal codes and parking enforcement for your local area that would differ from what someone else might see in another city. 

Local information in search results can also be helpful in an emergency. If you search for “hurricane,” our Crisis Response features can show you local shelter information if there’s a hurricane close by, rather than just generic information about what a hurricane is.

Of course, just because some searches have local results, it’s not the case that everyone gets completely different results just because they are in different cities (or even different countries). If a search topic has no local aspect to it, there won’t be local results shown. If there is, we’ll show a mix of local results that are relevant to particular places along with non-local results that are generally useful.

How location works at Google

You might be wondering how location works at Google. Google determines location from a few different sources, and then uses this information to deliver more relevant experiences when it will be more helpful for people. Learn more about the different ways we may understand location in the video below as well as how to manage your data in a way that works best for you on our help center page about location and Search

Location is a critical part of how Google is able to deliver the most relevant and helpful search results possible—whether you need emergency information in a snap, or just some late-night pizza delivered. For more under-the-hood information, check out our How Search Works series. 

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A weird year in review

2020, what a year this was! We found new ways to work and collaborate, to learn and have fun, and also to stay safe.

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An update on the Structured Data Testing Tool

In July, we announced that the Rich Results Test is out of beta. In that blog post, we said that the Structured Data Testing Tool would be deprecated. Since then, we’ve heard your feedback and we’d like to give an update on what the future looks like for the Structured Data Testing Tool

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Making sense of 2020 through Search

Amid a year of uncertainty, upheaval and adjustment to a new way of life, the world had a lot of questions. And we did our best to help people understand the changing world around them, launching more than 4,000 new features and improvements to help people find high quality, reliable information in Google Search. Here are some of the ways Search evolved this year to help people make sense of everything that happened in 2020.

Respondingto a rapidlychangingworld

When the world began to change without warning, we launched a new COVID-19 Search experience so people could more easily access information and resources from health authorities. Tools such as wildfire mapping and earthquake early warning anticipated what became some of the year’s most common and pressing questions such as “fires near me” and “earthquake near me.” And with all of the year’s crises and stressors, we saw a rise in searches like “how to help someone having a panic attack.” So, if you’re searching for more information on anxiety, you can now access a clinically-validated questionnaire called the GAD-7 (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7) directly from Search.

Google Trends data showing a spike in searches for the word "unemployment" in April 2020.

Searches for “unemployment” reached an all-time high in April.

The Black-owned business attribute on a company's Maps profile

Adjusting to a new way of living

A lot of you wanted clarity on “social distancing,” so we got to work keeping you safely social and entertained. Popular times and live busyness information helped you make informed decisions about when to safely visit your favorite restaurant or store. And while you probably couldn’t make it to your local yoga studio for a while, businesses let you know, with Reserve with Google, when they offered online appointments and classes. And with interest in “black-owned businesses” skyrocketing by over 2,100 percent this year, you were able to find and support your local Black-owned businesses on Search and Maps.

For those of you staying indoors, what to watch helped you navigate endless streaming options, and when you searched  for “virtual museum tours” we delivered. For those seeking a “virtual classroom,” we introduced new Lens features to provide a friendly assist with math homework and more. 

While 2020 was no doubt a trying time for all, we hope we were able to help you find the information you needed to keep yourself and your family happy, healthy, and safe.

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20 years of Year in Search

Twenty years ago, Google published its very first end-of-year list, called the Year-End Google Zeitgeist. Looking back, it’s clear how much some things have changed (please see the list of the top 10 MP3 music resources), and how much they stay the same (decades later and we’re still watching some of these sitcoms). 

Originally, these year-end lists evolved out of an internal project, eventually becoming the annual, public-facing report in 2001. “It’s not a million miles away from what we do now,” says Google Data Trends editor Simon Rogers, looking back on that very first site. 

The original year-end collection wasn’t just created as a way for people to reflect on Search trends; it was also a way for people, including those who work in marketing or media, to find interesting stories and understand more about the events, people and moments of a certain year. 

These days, Year in Search is accompanied by a film that showcases the emotion behind the searches and trends of the year. “We also started finding a theme—this year it’s ‘why,’ which was at an all-time high in Google Trends history,” says Simon.  

Engineer Roni Rabin has been working on Year in Search for the past eight years and she’s seen it become increasingly sophisticated over time. “It’s always a really special moment once Year in Search launches and we see the world discovering the video and the lists.” 

And this year, there’s been plenty to discover. Simon calls 2020 a “dramatically interesting year for Search.” Past topics he remembers as significant for Search trends include weather events and the 2016 election—but nothing quite compares to the communal global interests of 2020. “These big, shared moments that affect everybody, they’re pretty rare,” he says. “And just to see so many crammed into such a short period of time, one year, is pretty unusual. I haven’t really seen anything like this.”

While Year in Search has changed over the years, there’s a hopefulness about the project that’s remained. “One of the things that makes me happy every year is how alike we are,” Simon explains. “Despite how different and divided we can be, this year especially, the data really showed how much we have in common.”

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