Posted March 19, 2007 11:18 pm by with 16 comments

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If I’m reading this news correctly, Google will today launch six landscape “skins” for the Google Personalized Homepage.

Google’s new package of decorations, also known as “skins”, are designed to make the home page feel even more homey, said Marissa Mayer, the company’s vice president of search products and user experience.


“Google has become the doorway to the internet for a lot of people, so we want to make (the site) feel more like an online living room,” Mayer said.


“We feel we are personalising things in a very tasteful and useable way.”

And the skins available?

…Google’s first set of decorations consist of just six themes revolving mostly around landscapes. The settings include a Japanese tea garden, a beach, a city skyline and a bus stop. Google plans to introduce a few more themes each month and eventually may accept outside submissions, Mayer said.

Could it get any cheesier?

Users are asked to enter their post code so the digital drawings change from day to night and change with the weather. The designs also will contain hidden surprises known as “Easter eggs” that will open up with an opportune click at the right time of the day, Mayer said.

OK, I’m just, just…lost for words. You take it from here.

UPDATE: The skins are now live (see example below). They certainly have a nice feel to them and I like that they change the overall theme of the page. I’ve entered my zip and now can’t wait to see if some kids come and graffiti the bus stop, when the sun goes down. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Okay, this might be one of the lamer Google “innovations” I have heard to date.

    Maybe I’m just still caught up on the Pilgrim’s recent Google/Microsoft conversation, but the mention of “making it more like your living room” reminded me of that weird Microsoft Windows version that simulated walking around a house to help get novice users comfortable with navigating the desktop? (If you went to the desk in the study, you found “My Documents” and so on). Sorry, just took a weird leap there but help me out; what was that called?

  • Did I hear something about cheese. You got that right. I’ve about had it with all the google cheese. Abuse thier power hipocrits, my opinion.

    The Davinator

  • Simply put, it sounds as though Google are trying to make personalisation more attractive to users.

    Once they roll out the WoW skins though….

  • I don’t think you are giving Google enough credit, or rather I think you are giving the average web user too much. This is the exact kind of cheeseball stuff that helps Yahoo kill Google on the fluffy factor. While, I don’t ever think it’s a good idea to stray from what makes your company unique, I don’t think this can have much negative effect for Google.

  • Dean

    C’mon Andy, it’s just a goofy feature that many people might like. What might be cheese to a saavy web person may be “cool” to the uninitiated. And there are alot more of the latter.

    I might also add that you never know if this is leading to something else that might be universically uncheesy. The Easter Egg thing could be interesting in a number of ways.

    Remember Andy, in America, cheese sells ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • What a GREAT way to entice people to give out their zip code.

    Better targeting = more money. Anyone just hear a cash register go off?

  • Maybe Google wanted something that would appeal to the MySpace crowd. Jeremy, that’s what I like to hear, conspiracy theories – now Google will have a huge database of zips (tied to individual accounts). You could argue that anyone that has a weather widget on their homepage, is already giving up their zip.

  • I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy theory, I call it smart business ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Good point on the weather gadget. Didn’t think of that one since I don’t use it. I do think Google will keep moving the way of the portal and that is their main goal with this change. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used for opening up doors to get that little bit of extra information they may need to make things like personalized search work.

  • I’m a little confused by the reaction to this here.

    Google isn’t forcing anyone to use these themes, and as for their “cheesiness,” well, I think there’s a tendency for technophiles to forget that the vast majority of Internet users like warmer, friendlier, “childish” things like Japanese-garden themes for their personal start page.

    If you look at the consumer oriented Web 2.0 sites that are out there, the ones with the brighter, more colorful, and (perceived) user-friendly interfaces get the most buzz and probably the most eyeballs and mind share. The new Google interfaces remind me a lot of Vox, for example, which has gotten a ton of good press and has ramped up a large user base over a very short period of time in a fairly crowded market.

    Just some thoughts.

  • Jeremy, you beat me to it – exactly what I was thinking too…those sneaky, sneaky bastards;)


  • So far the themes seem to change their look based on the current weather. It’s an interesting feature, but I don’t use the Google Personalized homepage. I’m not a portal kind of guy, and I’m happy with my Google sidebar.

  • I think you might be similar to the personalisation myspace. Hopefully they can stop people altering the profiles like on Mysapce. There’s litterally thousands of badly formated Myspace profiles where you can’t read the text or is several pages wide…

  • Is it me .. or is this starting to smell like MySpace?

  • Doh … Kelvin beat me to it !

  • I agree with Jeff. I think the reaction against this is a little strong. The plain Google home page simply gets boring after awhile. If Google wants it to be my personal home page then I need to jazz it up some.

    I’d prefer having complete control over how it looks. Let me customize it myself, but these themes are a start. They’re all decent looking. Maybe not the kind of theme I’d create for myself, but most people will enjoy them.

    And it’s not like anyone needs to use one. You’re all free to use the default classic Google look.

    As far as Google becoming more like MySpace. How do these themes do that. No one is seeing my theme other than me. I’m not forcing my aesthetics on anyone else.

    Yahoo has allowed users to customize the look of their home page for years. Now Google is figuring out that most people like to have that ability. I’m looking forward to Google offering me more control over how my personal home page looks. It is my personal home page after all. Shouldn’t I be allowed to make it look how I want?

  • Aside from the information that you are giving them, the skins do look cute.. and way cooler. What’s wrong with that? ๐Ÿ˜€