Ah, Bing. From the moment it was launched, the design community frowned upon Microsoft’s attempt at a search engine. Its comically poorly stretched word-mark typography. Its overdesigned landing page. And then there was the question of it copying Google search results.
Yes, it’s been a rocky ride for Bing. For Microsoft in general, really. Never has the company faced challenges on so many fronts.
In response to these challenges, Microsoft (quite impressively) is moving forward with a surprising amount of consistency in style and design. ‘Metro’ is the name of the game, and you can see it on your Xbox, on your PC, on your phone… heck, even Microsoft’s main website has funky colored squares now.
Yes, it’s hip to be square. But wait, Bing remains… well, Bing. A few days ago, Bing unveiled their new, ‘uncluttered’ search experience. As you may notice, it’s nothing like anything Microsoft is putting out right now.
(my apologies for the poor quality. I couldn’t find a better screenshot)
Why? As users deride Google for rolling intrusive, irrelevant ‘social’ crud into their base experience, there’s a vacancy on the internet for a strong return to simple. Remember this?
That won over this. Because it was simple. When offered two products, we pick the one that’s simple. It’s alluring and inviting. It’s in our nature.
Now, Google’s starting to put on pounds. Its mandatory ‘social’ search results, page thumbnails that fly out of your cursor, integration with the not-quite-perfect Play Store (or was it Marketplace? I forget); Microsoft is in a place to innovate on the design of web search. Not by adding social sidebars to it, but by letting the content breathe. What would that look like?
Why wouldn’t Microsoft experiment with something… simple?
If anything, it’d be a great opportunity to bring better typography and simplicity back to search engines.
And hey, look, there’s even room for Bing’s obsession with stock photography in there. Everyone wins.
* I’m not pretending this is an immediately viable redesign of Bing. Designing a search engine is a humongous task. What’s equally or even more humongous is the opportunity in reinventing an online experience we have taken for granted for so long. Bing’s current strategy seems to be simply following behind Google, copying them every move. It’s a perfect recipe for irrelevance.