After a couple months of testing, Google has confirmed that it’s switching to a home page that fades in as it loads. The rest of the text and links on the home page will only appear when a user moves his/her mouse.
During a recent interview with Danny Sullivan, Google’s Marissa Mayer suggested that Google wasn’t happy with the test results on this fading home page: “The fading home page is either going to be reformulated or go into a whole new direction.” Mayer said the fade-in slowed people down and left them disoriented. In today’s announcement, which Mayer co-authored with two additional Google employees, Google addressed those same concerns but ultimately spun them as a positive:
“…the variant of the homepage we are launching today was positive or neutral on all key metrics, except one: time to first action. At first, this worried us a bit: Google is all about getting you where you are going faster — how could we launch something that potentially slowed users down? Then, we realized: we want users to notice this change… and it does take time to notice something (though in this case, only milliseconds!). Our goal then became to understand whether or not over time the users began to use the homepage even more efficiently than the control group and, sure enough, that was the trend we observed.”
The Google announcement says the new home page is live now, but I’m still accessing the old/non-fading version.
Meanwhile, there’s more discussion on Techmeme.