Google’s all about the instant these days. Hot on the heels of Google Instant search is a new feature called Google Instant Previews. Google Instant Previews places a little magnifying lens next to each of your search results. When you click it, it pulls up a thumbnail of the website. Not only that, it even highlights where your search query shows up in the page. You can also pull up previews by pressing the right arrow on your keyboard after running your search and then moving through the search results with the up/down arrow keys.
So, what’s the value in this? For one, you don’t have to navigate to websites to see if they are what you are looking for. You can quickly flip through the previews to see how your search query shows up in the page and/or if the page looks legitimate and official. For example, if you wanted to find a news article on the cilantro recall, you could preview the results to make sure that cilantro is mentioned in the body of the article, instead of just in the comments. Or, if you visited a page before but can’t remember where it was, you can preview the results until you recognize the page you are looking for.
Google claims that they’ve been waiting to crack this gem out until things were fast enough to load Instant Previews, well, instantly. And now, they can—Google says that it takes less than a tenth of a second to render the previews, and it certainly feels that fast.
I wonder what kind of impact this will have on the web design community. I’ve always considered the first impression for a website to be like a “five second audition,” but now that’s even more true. As web users, we can recognize a how-to, a video, a Q&A page, a thin affiliate site or a news article at a glance. Now, we’ll be able to make up our minds about a website before we even visit it. Web designers take note: make sure your landing page looks good in Instant Preview!
Google Instant Previews is slowly rolling out to users and regions. But you can click here to try Google Instant Previews. Have fun!