Welcome, teletext fanatics! I'll just leave this here...

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Google.com - Back to basics

Google is often cited as the simplest, most no-nonsense website around. Indeed, the fact it is the world's most popular search engine would back this up - it has many language translations including Spanish, Japanese and even Taiwanese. I set out, using the Wayback Engine, to see if this has always been the case.

Google, 11/11/98

The oldest archived version of Google's home page, hosted at Stanford.com, is simply a 'Welcome to Google' message with a couple of links - the ultimate in sparse. Except maybe for something.com. The search engine page itself is actually almost as 'cluttered' as the modern design but the layout is still very simple.

Google, 29/11/99

The simplification process continues as a year later Google is stripped to just a logo, a search box and a couple of relevant links. A bit closer to today's design, this version boasts a web design and application award.

Google, 10/11/00

As the Internet grew, so did Google. Its new web directory feature was an indication of this, as was the introduction of Adwords - an advertising service allowing sites to pay for a high Google rank. It seems simplicity is still key with no major additions to the overall layout.

Google, 10/11/01

Google's popularity booms. A small addition to the home page includes image and net group search facilities and the 'I'm feeling lucky' function appears but nothing else is added.

Google rules the world.

A site with just a logo and a search box. A brilliant idea stemming from a small project and eventually going on to rule the (Internet) world. Most importantly of all, it's very very simple - load up, type and click, with no distractions - a text-only design that works. The newer additions have been incorporated in a text only format going back to basics in its approach.

I love simplicity. Maybe it's just a nostalgia but the pages of the early Internet appeal to me with their uncomplicated, uncluttered designs. Today's websites are way too involved and overcomplicated. Come back, Tim Berners-Lee, all is forgiven.