We first reported on Google’s bucket testing of a new homepage that fades to nothing but its logo and the search box after receiving a tip about it at the beginning of this month. Since then, we’ve been getting more and more incoming tips from people who are starting to see this and haven’t seen our or other reports about the gimmick.
I have yet to see the experimental homepage myself, but judging from our inbox and chatter on Twitter the company does seem to be including more people in the bucket test than was the case a couple of weeks ago. Likely, they need to gain more data from actual usage to decide whether or not it can become a permanent feature or not.
One new change to the fading homepage is the fact that there’s now a short sentence that appears under the search box when the rest of the page fades out. The line, which reads “This space intentionally left blank” was seemingly added because too many unaware users were confused by the fade effect and frantically started disassembling their computers in search of a solution (at least that’s what they do in my imagination). If the point is to remove all extraneous text, adding that message seems like the equivalent of explaining the punchline of a joke. It ruins the effect.
Besides sowing confusion, it is also creating a minor backlash. People who are seeing the fade-out are apparently not big fans of it either. Some choice tweets:
This is what it looks like now:
And this is the test they ran earlier this month: