Some visitors to iGoogle were greeted with a slightly altered interface today. The new interface grayed-out the default iGoogle interface and pushed it into a background. The foreground consisted of a layer forcing users to create their personalised Google homepage.
What made this experiment interesting was the fact that it was the first time Google has ever actually prevented users from searching before they took a desired action – creating their personalised homepage, in this case.
The screenshot below shows the new interface:
Users could not click out of the foreground and were not able to search without selecting some interests, a theme and clicking the “See your page” button.
This is truly unusual for Google, whose mantra is normally usability above all else. A lot of users who have personalised iGoogle but want to just perform a quick search will be unable to do so, the first time they access this page, without signing in or clicking another button. In other words, such users will be prompted to stay signed in at all times.
iGoogle’s new interface probably indicates a really strong push towards personalised search results and perhaps further changes to the algorithm with respect to the degree of results personalisation.
In fact, the search giant might probably end up making iGoogle the default page users see when they visit the Google homepage, and the “Classic Home” page will become the alternative choice, prompting most users to personalise over time.