The UX of Google Images (2013)

Recently Google “upgraded” their user interface for Google Images.  I use Google Images ALL THE TIME.  I am big on presentations with large graphics and I find their service invaluable.  There is one spot, however,  that is annoying me to no end since their “upgrade”. (Heavy use of air quotes and sarcasm there)

  1. Search for something like “happy kid”
  2. See the results
  3. Click on one of the results
  4. Realize this one isn’t exactly what you want
  5. try to make the giant image go away and resume browsing

Things that work = the little cancel gray X or pressing the ESC key.


I actually did neither of these things.  The UI changed so much after the click (giant black thing in the middle of the screen) that my brain said, “We want to go back to the tile view.”  So I clicked Back.  Specifically, I used my mouse “back” gesture which is a button I use all the time on my Logitech Performance MX mouse.

This brought me back to the search interface and all my tiles were gone.  I have literally been making this mistake every single time for weeks.  Ever since they changed the UI, I keep making this mistake over and over again.  Stupid brain.

It’s so easy to fix though.  Make the back button close the window with the zoomed image.  Then another back click would go backwards to the search UI.

One more complaint, since I am in a crotchety mood.  They used to have a link on hover of an image to “find similar” or “all sizes”.  I often want a picture, but need it in higher resolution for my PowerPoint presentation.  Now, I need to click “Image Details” and go to another UI and then click ALL sizes.  This is really annoying and a loss of functionality and UX.

The latest release probably had a designer and a product manager and engineers all trying to do the right thing.  However, they went backwards despite their best efforts.  They hurt the UX while achieving some other goals.  They are moving on to work on other features, I am sure.  Who knows if they will hear my yelp in the darkness, but I wish they would:

  1. Make the back button close the image detail before going back
  2. Add in links to “find similar” and “all sizes” in the detail area

Anyone know someone at Google?

It’s actually an opportunity.  Fixing it would make me think they aren’t a giant bureaucracy and could get good stuff done quickly.  It’s an opportunity to make a superfan.

UPDATE:  Am I blind?  Was it there the whole time??  I just noticed the “More sizes” link.  Ugh, I feel like a tool.  My bad.


One reply on “The UX of Google Images (2013)”

Totally agree with you — the X box to close really sucks from a usability standpoint, everyone’s reflex is to use the browser’s back button. Looks like someone at Google may need to read up on history.js …

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