Will Your Web Site Survive Google’s Instant Previews?

Posted by Bryan McCall

Google's latest feature on its search result page is a little magnifying glass sitting next to the search results. By hovering over this link, users get to see a thumbnail of a site on the list. Now a potential visitor can make a judgment about your site without even being able to read any text but the headline and maybe larger subheads. In the past, we talked about having three seconds to capture a visitor's interest. That will soon seem like a luxury.

What's going to save a site from this new instant filter? The answer is good design.

Pages that have ads, sidebars, icons, sign-up boxes, and other elements all with equal visual weight will be a cluttered mess in the preview. This is akin to the self-defeating strategy of bolding everything in a letter or email since everything is important, with the result that nothing seems more important.

On the other hand, clean, graphic pages with an ordered presentation of ideas will do well.

Part of the design process is sorting the messages by priority and using design to make them stand out. The other elements are there and easy to find but not calling too much attention to themselves. Other disciplines of good design will also help survive the instant preview, such as using a limited color pallet and fewer typefaces, grids, white space, etc.

I am reminded of a trick from art school. The strength of a composition can be seen more clearly by standing back from the easel and squinting. The structure, lights and darks become clear and the areas of weakness stand out. Google's Instant Preview is the technological equivalent.

Take a squint at your web site. Give us a call if it doesn't stand strong.



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