What If We Held a Rally to Protest the Google News Redesign and Nobody Came?

Okay, so I was a little grumpy when I posted Google News Redesign Offers “News for You” last Thursday morning. But I hadn’t had my second cup of coffee that morning. Then on Saturday, I asked, “Is the Google News Redesign a Repeat of the New Coke Disaster?” So, I admit that I, too, questioned whether revamping the Google News homepage was a good idea.

So, imagine my surprise this afternoon when I checked Compete, which has a diverse sample of 2,000,000+ U.S. Internet users that have given us permission to analyze the web pages they visit and ask them questions via surveys. When I looked to see if the protests over the Google News redesign had impacted the daily reach of the news search engine, I saw that they haven’t.

It shows Yahoo! News goes up on weekdays and down on weekends, but Google News remains relatively flat — before the redesign and after.

Compete daily reach July 6, 2010.png
Compete Daily Reach of Yahoo! News, Google News, and Ask.com News

So, I double-check with Experian Hitwise, which provides insights on how 10 million US Internet users interact with more than 1 million websites, across 160+ industries. Matt Tatham sent me the chart below. It shows Yahoo! News goes up on weekdays and down on weekends, but Google News remains relatively flat — before the redesign and after.

Hitwise News and Media Websites by visits.png
Hitwise: Selected Websites in News and Media by Visits

So, I know there was a three-day holiday in the middle of these samples. But it begs the question: What if we held a rally to protest the Google News redesign and nobody came?

The engineers at Google have taken a lot of heat for being unresponsive. But what if the protesters — myself included — are a very tiny, very vocal minority with time on our hands over the 4th of July weekend, but no measurable impact on what others think or do?


I still think that Google News should offer an easy way to roll back to the old design. Or, as Stop Changing Things said in a comment to one of my earlier posts, “Like it or hate it, (hate it), the biggest question is, WHERE is the option for the user to set the UI the way they want it. Or keep it the way it used to be.”

Or check out Gavin Rayworth’s comment: “Hey, Google! Interesting experiment. Do you have the feedback you need, yet? Can we please, please have our old web page back now?”

Or read what Denise wrote: “The new layout is awful. PLEASE switch it back.”

I believe that these are authentic people with credible requests. So, maybe they haven’t switched to another news search engine … yet, but I can now understand why a Google spokesperson said, “It”s really too early to characterize the response. We’ve tested our latest design thoroughly, and we anticipate our users will really like it.”

As they say, the jury is still out. We’ll see in a week whether this was a tempest in a teapot or the lull before the storm.

Stay tuned. Don’t touch that dial. Film at 11.

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