Google launched Instant Previews in 2010 to make searching easier, but the instant graphic preview of a website in the results page may not have taken off as Google intended. A slightly altered version of the Google Search page appeared recently, and this one doesn’t include the Instant Preview feature. Instead, a tiny green colored arrow drops down to reveal a menu with three options – Cached, Similar and Share. While this seems to still be in an experiment phase, chances are you’ll see the change if you head over to google.com right now.
It might be difficult to spot the green arrow at first, as it resides right next to the green URL of a each website, but you’ll see it once you know what you’re looking for. Clicking on the Similar option in the new dropdown menu activates the ‘related’ operator, returning websites that are similar to this one. The Share option, which isn’t always available, opens a Google+ sharing dialog for the URL.
Instant Preview was a useful feature for quickly scanning through the search results and picking a page that best matched your query, such as a website with clear layouts and minimal advertising, for example. Instant Previews helped because we do gravitate to pages that visually look professional. It’s difficult to say if doing away with Instant Previews is a temporary move or a permanent one, but TechCrunch cites a Google spokesperson as saying: “We’re constantly making changes to the layout and features of the search results page.” As TechCrunch points out, the wording of this response suggests it is a permanent update and not an experimental one.
Google’s reason for the move aside, it does make for a cleaner page, grouping three seemingly unrelated options under one roof. In one fell swoop, Google made the page less cluttered on one hand, and managed to bring Google+ sharing one step closer on the other.
Will you miss Instant Previews if they never come back? What do you think of the new menu?