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Google’s New Navigation: Good, Bad & Not Too Ugly

As Google continues to update its search algorithm, they are putting more weight on website design and user experience. From an SEO standpoint, sites that have a professional look, intuitive navigation, and are integrated with social media fair better in the search results. It is no surprise then, that Google has decided to practice what they preach by updating their own site with a cleaner look and a new, simpler drop-down navigation menu.

The black bar menu was just introduced this past June offering the most popular Google features like web search, images, videos, maps, news and Gmail. It included a More drop-down menu that housed less popular features. For those that wanted to access Google’s most obscure offerings, it was necessary to link to a separate page entirely. The new Google navigation menu is located in a grey band along the top of the page and is accessed by hovering over the Google logo with your mouse. The identifying upside-down triangle indicating a menu is present has a clean look but is so understated that it could leave the less savvy searchers among us lost without quick access to Google Maps to find their way back to their favorite Google tools.

New Google Navigation Menu

New Google Navigation Menu

Google’s new navigation menu has reprioritized too. The Videos link is no longer deemed worthy of the top level menu and has been buried under the More tab. It’s no surprise to anyone that they have opted to give YouTube priority placement in the main menu. A surprise (to me a least) is that Google Documents has also made the cut for primary menu placement, out ranking the Shopping and Finance links.

The new drop-down menu is a little buggy, not always activating immediately the first time you hover over it. After that, it pops up quickly and is fairly intuitive and has large, easily identifiable icons. The clickable area within each tab is spacious and forgiving for those with poor sight or fine motor skills. For those obscure features, Google still requires you to click the Even More tab, which again, takes you to their page of stuff nobody uses.

Google’s Sign-in and Google+ bar remain in the upper right side of the page where it has been and has essentially gone unchanged.

Ironically, I wasn’t able to get the new Google menu to show up using Chrome, even after clearing my cache, tossing my cookies and relaunching Chrome. It did, however, appear just fine when I launched Safari. (Go figure).  All-in-all, the new menu looks good. For a quick tutorial, check out video.

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