CNN Loves Search Bars

In an earlier post, I had suggested that Google place a search bar in their 404 page. has taken the exact opposite approach of having too many search bars in a 404 page: 


They have not one, not two, but three [!!] search bars in their 404 page. Granted two of them are from the header and footer, but still, there’s got to be a better design. I’m sure Google is loving the heavy emphasis on “powered by Google” x 3 on this page.  

Google Search Redirects to a Competitor

Here’s something I never thought I would see. When I did the Google search shown below, the Google Ad that was shown at the bottom of the search results was a link for a similar search by the Ask Search Site. According to this site, Ask has about 3% market share and Google is around 66% so it’s not like Google is directing users to a top competitor. Even so, I find it very strange that they are redirecting to Ask.



Google +1 Is Having An Identity Crisis

In the last month, I’ve seen so many different version of the Google +1 button that my head’s starting to spin. In terms of cultivating loyalty to a product, I don’t think it’s a good idea to constantly change the branding and how it looks to users. Let’s have a review of all of the different versions. 

I’ll start with what I’ll call Version 0, as seen about a month ago on Google Finance:

Then, let’s move on to what I’ll call Versions 1 and 2 – which most people would call their current main versions. One place to find these versions is on the official Google +1 page located here.

One is a rectangular button with the “g” in the design. The body is red and the interior is white. 
The other is a square button without the “g” in the design. The body is red and the interior is white.  

First point of confusion: why are their two designs (one with the “g” and one without the “g”) ?!?


Now, let’s move to two places that currently have these two versions. First, we’ll start with Version 1 (with the “g”) that is currently being used in the Google Finance stock page: 


Then we’ll move on to Google+ that is making use of the +1 button without the “g”:


But wait! There’s a key difference between how these two buttons are used in practice (in Google Finance & Google+) versus how they were branded in theory (the main Google +1 page). The color schemes are swapped. On the +1 main page, the interior is white and the body is red, whereas in Google Finance and Google+, the interior is red and the body is light gray. Why the color swap?!?

Now, onto more confusion. Here is what the +1 button looked like in the YouTube share module up until yesterday: 


OK – simple enough – this was just the same as Version 1 (color swap) called out above. But wait, here is what the YouTube +1 looks like today:


So now we have a third version of this button which has the “g” and the “+” but no longer has the “1”. 

Like I said before, my head is spinning. It’s best to stick to one version and ensure user consistency across multiple flows. 


Google Plus Integration With Google News

For some articles displayed by Google News, the author’s Google+ profile link is shown as well. For example, the Google+ profile module is shown for Julianne Pepitone below:


And here’s what you see if you click on her Google+ link:


This is weird and unexpected. For other authors, I’ve seen the article that is being shown on Google News displayed in their Google+ “Posts” feed – as they are sharing it publicly i.e. not with a specific Google+ circle. But in this case, even though the author hasn’t posted her article on her public feed, Google+ is still pointing me to her Google+ page. In fact, this author hasn’t shared anything with the public. So I’m wondering, why am I sent here? Why does Google+ want me to add someone to my circles if that person has not and probably may not share anything with me?

Fun With 404s

In the wonderful world of the world wide web, there’s a type of page that’s called the 404 page. This is the page that is shown by the site if the web request sent by the client is not understood by the web server. For more practical purposes, this page is also the catch-all page that is shown to users when there is an internal fatal error that cannot be mapped to any helpful or specific messaging that would be useful to the user.

Typically, when the user arrives at this page, they were trying to do something on the site, but something went berserk in the back-end and was not handled gracefully. There is a manual way to reach this page as well. Here’s how you can do it.

1. Start with a site URL, such as
2. Append a slash “/” and an arbitrary piece of text, such as “arbitrarytext”
3. Go to the newly formed URL:

Here’s what you’ll see: (highlights added by me)


1. I like the page title “Error 404 (Not Found)!!1” as the exclamation marks and the “1” at the end (what you would press if you weren’t holding down the shift key and trying to type an exclamation mark) really convey the frustration of the situation.
2. I love the picture of the robot that has fallen apart – it brings humor to a situation that may have otherwise been a bad user experience.
3. I love the part that says “That’s all we know”. This piece of text stays true to the error guideline of telling the user what happened and why it happened. Here the application is admitting its ignorance!
4. Finally, I see one room for major improvement. A Google search bar should be dropped into this page with a helpful piece of text such as “Looking for something? Perhaps, a web search would help…” or some other content. This is the page where people become stuck – there’s no better way to un-stuck the user than Google search to look for what possibly went wrong. And this could be a decent revenue generator for Google as well.

Here are some creative versions of this page: