More than a pretty face

Along with the release of our new search experience, we’d like to give some background into the design team and process that went into all the changes you see. You might not immediately think of design as being a critical part of a search product, but we think it is, and we have a growing team of designers, researchers, and developers who believe it, too. We have a growing, pro-design community here at Microsoft as well (only fitting to plug Microsoft Design).

Simple and powerful. Human. Fast. These were our guiding principles for this latest version of Live Search.

Here’s the nickel tour:

  • Simple and powerful is about getting just enough, having information and tools when you need them, and revealing functionality without being overwhelmed.
  • Being human reminds us that all good products speak to people and we should always design for them.
  • Being fast has particular relevance to search where so much depends on rolling up the world of information to support people’s countless other activities and passions.

We wove these principles into our work on Live Search in a process that started with user research, customer feedback, and a myriad of other sources for data and learning. All disciplines got involved in sketching as a shared way to develop our ideas. With informed iteration, sketches turned into the interactions, layouts, and visual designs that fed directly into user testing, giving us a unique opportunity as designers and researchers to make truly “user-centered” decisions.

Here are some of the biggest changes you’ll notice that resulted from our product design process:

Image showing evolution of Live Search header

Search box near results  The new Live Search header and search box is slimmed down from a heavy piece of UI into sleeker, simpler elements. Bringing the search box into alignment with the results and into the body moves it closer to where users are looking and flattens out the visual bumps between it and the results.

Room to breathe on the page  Something else you’ll see on a large screen (lucky you!) is our centered, fixed-width page, allowing for a more thoughtful, predictable experience as richer search content and wider screens become the norm.

Crisp, clean type  We’ve also made changes to our color and typography. Our decision to use Arial and the new color palette was based not only on our desire to improve readability and consistency, but also on rounds of testing to find the right combination.

Intuitive video search  For our new video search experience, the team focused on activities and behaviors that make video search different. We focused on simplicity — cutting irrelevant pixels and text — and power — investing in enhanced preview for video — both of which contribute to the overall simple, yet powerful experience.

Health results integrated from many sources  You’ll see in health search that we’ve created a way for users to pull together health information from many different sources, digestible all in one place.

Ultimately, we think we’ve taken a step forward with this new product that we think will improve the overall Live Search experience. As with any design, it will evolve along with our design team, and we’ll tell you more as we go. We welcome hearing your thoughts, too.

Evan Malahy, Designer, Live Search

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