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The latest Google webpage redesign brings us a feature ( or a bug?): Clicking on the logo no longer brings user to the homepage of the website. This behavior is consistent across different Google properties, such as Google search, Gmail, GDocs and so on.

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I find it quite frustrating when I click on the logo and nothing happens. I think it is a bad UX design decision, but people at Google, who must have spend a huge amount of A/B testing and with huge amount of data at their disposal, seems to disagree with my assessment.

Do you think that this design breaks the fundamental of UX? Or is there a very good reason for doing so?

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They likely found out that only a very small number of users click on the logo to navigate to the service's main page. –  dnbrv Feb 24 '12 at 2:12
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This is also frustrating to me. –  Levi Morrison Feb 24 '12 at 2:15
    
Wierd it works fine for me. Maybe they read your post! –  benb Feb 24 '12 at 11:20
    
@benb, no it is still not working fine for me –  Graviton Feb 24 '12 at 12:38
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I think they are probably doing A/B testing on this at the moment, which is why different people are seeing different behaviors. –  martinpolley Feb 26 '12 at 7:54

8 Answers 8

There are several good points made in these answers regarding the specific behavior, but since you commented that what frustrates you most is the change in behavior, your question can probably be generalized to:

Does changing the behavior of something make it bad UX?"

And I would argue no, because the human brain is much more adaptable than we tend to give it credit for. I understand that one of the main goals of UX is to be useful while remaining invisible to the user, but, as an example, look at how many times Facebook has changed its UI. Each time it's changed, thousands (or millions) of users lash out in frustration. And each time they adapt to the new interface and forget the old one. You don't hear anyone now saying:

This new layout sucks, why don't they just go back to the one from 2008?

I think the same applies to your question. As long as the new behavior doesn't have an adverse, permanent effect (ex: switching "Save" and "Close without Save" buttons) and the old behavior or function isn't gone, I don't see anything wrong with it.

You'll probably click on the logo a couple more times, then you'll adapt to the change like a champ.

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Interesting question since when I last checked it (a couple of minutes back ) clicking the link took me back to the home page.However I have noticed this behavior in Gmail where clicking the Google logo on top does nothing

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I believe the reason for this is that Google disables the link on the Gmail page so that there isnt confusion about the main focus of the page and the Google logo just serves as an indicator of the google search built into the email

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I sometimes accidently click the Google logo in gmail, when I actually want to click the inbox. Convention told me this means "root" or "home" of the page I'm on, that is Gmail. :)

As the Google logo appears on all of Google's different sites, it better not direct to google.com, as that is not necessarily the "home" page of the page you are on.

Basically: Not linking the logo is good because it is google. Normal companies top left corner logos should still direct to their home page.

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It's not completely obvious what the home page should be, both from a usability and from a branding point of view. If the logo always leads to the search engine, it might confuse users in, say, gmail (without actual data this is just speculation but Google would know it better than us from usability tests or log data). But if the logo is linked to the home of the current application to solve this problem, it will produce inconsistent behavior across the different applications and probably anger those who are used to click on the logo to get to the search engine.

If my hypotheses are correct, the worse that can happen with no links is that some users are a bit surprised and prompted to look for the correct link (with the added benefit that many will learn to use the black bar). With a link (any link at all), some of these users will land in a different application, admittedly a much less desirable outcome.

Also google now has many different services and is apparently trying to push Google+ as the new center of the Google universe (new navigation with "+You" as the left most choice in the black bar, “personal results” roll-out) so they might want to break the association between the brand/logo and the search engine.

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+1 In my opinion, the change is the result of a decision to reposition the company in its user's minds as not just a search company. –  codeinthehole Feb 25 '12 at 12:51
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Also worth noting that this behavior probably makes more sense for Google Apps users. My Google Apps Docs, Mail, Calendar, etc... have my University's logo instead of the Google logo and as such I would expect it to work as it currently does because there is no 'central' Google search/home page for Apps users. –  Andrew Shipe Mar 1 '12 at 17:25

A standard convention on websites, especially corporate-style websites, is to have the logo at or near the top right of the page, and to have that logo be clickable. Indeed, Google still does this on their Analytics homepage, which has yet to receive the black bar branding. http://www.google.com/analytics/

From this perspective, the approach does break convention. And if your reflex action is to expect the logo to be clickable, yes, I think it is a tad annoying.

But it is worth wondering if this convention applies to Google, which is anything but a conventional "website". While Google's scope of influence may once have been primarily in the search engine universe, now the Google universe is much broader: a suite of web-based information tools, of which google.com (the "search" homepage) is just one of many. With all these disparate tools at your disposal, Google seems to have decided the black navigation bar at the top of all Google-related apps is the best way to access the maze.

If the Google logo were clickable and took you to the Google "search" home page, one could argue that this is actually not helpful from a usability perspective, because you're not really "home", you're only at the "search" homepage. Any time you've entered the Google web universe is when you're "home" from Google's perspective, because you're using just one of the many applications inside the Google wrapper (and the literal wrapper is the black nav bar).

At least that's one perspective on the issue.

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Google's logo frequently changes for holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries of national/world events. In doing so it often links to a search query of the occasion.

Because this happens so frequently, it hasn't been reliable as a "home" button for a while. Changing it to just a regular image reflects this. And as @aaronthompson said there is no real need for the user to navigate back to the homepage.

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Well, the frustration expressed above seems to indicate that there was actually a need of some sort. –  Gala Feb 24 '12 at 11:50

After a user submits a query, there is no reason for them to return to the Google landing page. Every option that was available on the landing page is available from the results page. There is no reason for a user to return to the landing page, which renders a clickable logo superfluous.

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A "landing page" is the page where a person lands upon interacting with an advertisement. –  dnbrv Feb 24 '12 at 2:43
    
thanks for the heads up. home page :) –  aaronthompson Feb 24 '12 at 3:07

According to me, I had never stumbled across to use that feature, since I never had a purpose. Now when we compare with a corporate website, and users have dived deep into a segment of a page - it is mindful and needful to have the logo to function as a Home page. But on a Google, let me say that all features/segments or digression to another Google site is readily disposable through some other means. Ex. From a Google search if I need to move on to Google docs - the path is through "More", likewise I never would think "Google" would need to make that function active - since I dont see an underlying context or major reasons to it.

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