Google Launches New Feature to Decorate Your Personalized Homepage

Announcement
March 20, 2007

This week, Google launched a new feature on the Google Personalized Homepage service. Users now have the option of selecting from 6 different "themes" to decorate their personalized homepage. The themes to choose from include: a beach, a city, a sweet dreams theme, a teahouse, a winter hills theme, and a bus stop.

To engage the user, each theme changes dynamically – based either on the user’s time of day or local weather conditions. For example, if you select the beach theme, the sunrise and sunset on your personalized homepage will correspond with your local sunrise and sunset times. Or, if you choose the bus stop theme, when it’s raining in your neighborhood, the characters in your bus stop theme will be equipped with umbrellas and rain gear. While each theme design is dynamic, it doesn’t interfere with the user’s ability to read and access information on the page. Our goal is to create an online experience that mirrors users’ local conditions (time, weather, etc.) and serves as a reflection of their own changing environment.

This is one of several new features that have been developed recently to enhance users’ experience with Google Personalized Homepage. Last week, we launched a Google Talk gadget and a "Magic Tabs" feature that auto-generates a tab based on a category the user selects (i.e. sports, news, movies, etc.)

We’ve worked hard to ensure the design and technology underpinning these new themes continues to offer the best possible user experience. We set out to create themes that were both graphically-rich and dynamic, but still meet Google’s speed and scalability requirements. We used a new CSS framework to optimize our ability to scale images and easily add new themes. We also used a tiling approach from the center to ensure that resizing the image did not distort it. The end result is a set of fun themes that are easy to use, change according to the user’s time and location, but don’t take away from the clarity of the page.

To select a theme for your personalized homepage, go to www.google.com/ig and click the "Select theme" link located on the top right-hand side of your screen.