Google search menu icons – my gripe.


Google recently rolled out icons to accompany the type of searches available to users:

C:\Users\Gurdz\Pictures\screenshots\GURDEEP-BLOG\google\Google search menu icons

Why use icons anyway? Icons are helpful to easily attribute meaning behind an action or function.

In this case the context is the type of search available to users: Standard, Images, Videos and so forth.

Cognitive overload?

The gripe I have with the Google icons is that for some reason it’s taken me cognitively longer to understand what the icons do.

My previous usage of Google search has my brain trained to quickly and easily scan the search types via the text on screen i.e. “All, Images, Videos, News” etc.

Since Google have added icons, my brain is instinctively reacting and trying to make sense of the symbols used in the icons and what they mean. The best way I can describe this as is looking at unfamiliar handwriting that’s not so easily read – it makes sense but takes a little longer to read.

The video icon is the only icon I can easily identify as being a video search. The others, I’m not used to, I’ve had pretty much zero exposure with these icons in mostly all the applications I use. The ‘more’ icon (with 3 dots), is something I identified easily because I’ve seen it being used across other websites and apps.

What do you think?

Below is an example where I have re-introduced text only search options.

Tell me what you think is easier and quicker for you in the poll below:

Google search menu with and without icons

The trouble I have with the icons it’s taking me far to long to glance at them and figure out what’s what. Perhaps if I used mostly all the apps in the Google ecosystem, I would be more accustom and at home? I’m not sure.

When I fail to understand what the icon means, I’m then reading the accompanying text. From a usability perspective, this is great, because this is a fallback mechanism if the user does not understand and associate meaning behind the icon.

I think I’ll get used to it, eventually.

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