Just when you get use to viewing certain Web sites in certain formats - it's a little disconcerting when they change it up for you. Almost feels like you're caught off balance. But Google has the power and we are only but bit players on its global stage. Today Google is releasing a redesigned version of their News site to English-language users in the US.
According to its blog, Google has made the transformation to present news stories happening around the globe in a more user-centric, customizable and shareable fashion.
Their hype focuses on 'personalization' and making the content adaptable for social networks.
Users can choose to view their stories by Section view or List view, and can reveal more headlines by hovering over the headline with one's mouse. Google will then remember your preferences each time you log in. If you don’t want customized Google News, hit “Reset personalization" to clear all personalization preferences. If you haven't previously customized and would prefer not to, simply close the “Edit personalization” box. You can always go back and change it later.
The change that makes the most sense to me and one I'm surprised hasn't been done before now is the ability to "share" stories or clusters of stories with a users' friends or followers on Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, Email and Reader. Just select the drop-down menu marked by an arrow on the top-right of each story cluster. In the drop-down, you can also choose to see more or less of the first news source.
Share News on Social Networks!
For more insight about the changes, check out Google's 1 1/2 minute video here.
Interesting side note - Google's changes to its News page may be due more to what the competition is doing versus addressing the needs of its minions. Just last week Microsoft rolled out updates to its Bing's News page, adding a capability for users to indicate their location to get local news and refreshing content more often. Additionally, Bing will soon power Yahoo search and now delivers Facebook's web search results, while Facebook is giving people more reasons to search with them.
But of course, it's Google that gets all the attention, including me writing about it today.
UPDATE: July 3 - ReadWriteWeb - It's normal to see a backlash against a redesigns (see the reaction to Facebook redesigns for instance), but reaction to Google News' new layout has been resoundingly harsh. So far, Google isn't offering an option to revert back to the old version, dissimilar to what it did with its last major Gmail update. It seems Google's attempt to balance personalization and serendipity left fans of both unhappy.