Google is once again trying to improve search with the release of their latest feature named Google Instant Preview. Basically you’ll be able to roll over a magnifying glass icon and get a screenshot view of the website you’d be visiting if you click. This isn’t a new concept, but new from Google. There are browser add-ons you can get such as CoolPreviews that give you this same functionality. The difference here is that Google is taking it to the masses by automatically having it in their search results, which I think will ultimately make search better by making it easier to qualify your clicks. There are lots of topics I can write about regarding this, but the quick point of this post is design.

As you can see from Mashable’s screenshot of Google Instant Previews, the screenshot Google displays for the site is very small (300 pixels from my calculation).

What does this mean?

Simplistic, organized design is going to be even more important than ever. If the user is now qualifying their click based on appearance, you’ve got to not only LOOK professional, but you must be organized with clear, bold, well written headlines. If you don’t provide a clear path for your visitors today from each page at full view, how are they ever going to understand it when your site is displayed at 300 pixels wide?

Two other HUGE things to consider:

  • Flash: In our initial review of the tool on November 9, 2010, it’s not recognizing FLASH. So if that site of yours is all Flash or you use Flash to as a path to get the user to do what you want them to do, this tool is not going to be your friend. If your competitors are using Flash, you suddenly have an advantage.
  • Pop-Ups: Something else to consider: pop-ups on your homepage! This affects Mindscape’s site. We currently use a pop-up to provide visitors to our homepage a free ebook on web marketing. Google’s tool will end up taking a screen capture of this, not our actual content. That’s no good. Fortunately we’re designing a new website right now!

The benefit to this is that it’s going to be easier for you to differentiate your site from others and show how professional you are!

Ultimately, Google will influence how we design pages (again) – starting today.

Hope this helps,