Reimagining Search: Bing’s New UX + Visual Identity Redesign
The folks at Bing have been tapping into the new ways people use online search tools and queries, and they’ve discovered that in 2013 “it’s more than just blue links.” According to Scott Erickson, Senior Director of Brand & Creative at Microsoft, “Search today is about context and answers.”
Rethinking Search: Going Beyond “Just a Web Page”
In a shift aimed at making their service more than a search engine, Bing has aptly followed suit with its identity, too. With a complete redesign and major identity update, including both its logo and user experience, Bing communicates both the flexibility and forward-thinking qualities of the brand.
An interactive, changing world demands an evolving brand, and Microsoft was ready to step up to the plate. Over the past 18 months, the company has completely overhauled its visual identity, from its corporate logo on. After extensive user-centered research, the Microsoft team was ready to act.
A brand refresh for Bing was an essential piece of this overarching change. And for a quick refresher of their new look and feel, this is where they started:
…and this is where their recent logo work landed:
“When we think about changing a brand or evolving something, we explore and think outside of technology for inspiration,” Erickson explains. The clean lines, simple forms and focus on functionality and authenticity associated with mid-century modern design took the lead in creating the new Bing.
New Bing = Big Changes. The vector logo, clean and linear, embraces an authentically-digital identity. The color and Segoe font pull from the corporate Microsoft logo, ensuring easy integration.
In keeping with the brand’s heritage, Bing reinforces the message that the lowercase “b” is here to stay. And they give it an extra nod with the new “b” icon—which itself does more than reiterate the leading letter, though; the negative space forms a bird, symbolic of speed and agility.
But the time was right for more than just a new logo. Bing took the brand refresh as an opportunity to re-imagine how search engines work, and evolve the service’s function and user experience in addition to its appearance.
Rethinking Search: Moving Beyond the Box
“We felt that indexing information was important, but we know magic doesn’t come from just giving a list of a zillion links. Magic comes from people being able to do things with the information they find and from empowering people to do what they need,” Erickson says. “We’ve embraced this mission of empowering people with knowledge. We’re creating products and experiences that celebrate insight over just lists of facts. We’re integrating with products that you use every day to make those experiences better.”
The developers at Bing knew it was time to move searching beyond the box. What do people really do, and what people really want, when they are searching? And how does this vary across platforms, from desktop to mobile to tablet? The Bing team understood that a more successful search engine would need to not only provide information, but do so in a way that actually makes it useful to the population at large.
Searching for Answers: Behind What’s New with Bing
Clean and Modern. Bing made getting information more attractive, not just easier. The new streamlined interface uses modern design language to create a clean, well-organized search experience, making the information given much more accessible and actionable.
See More, Search Less. The new Page Zero gives you answers and important information before you ever see a results page. Bing adapts search titles based on what you are searching for and which actions are most relevant at that time—such as tour dates, songs, and videos for a band—all before you hit search.
Better Information. The former functions of Sidebar and Snapshot now come together in the second column to provide even more for your search. Incorporating social media content and other relevant information and actions, this feature puts your search in context and dynamically changes to fit the specific search and intent.
Responsive. A new responsive design means Bing visually adapts across platforms, making your search effective and pleasing on all of your devices.
Answers Fast and First. A new area at the top of the results page, the pole position, shows up in high-confidence searches—when Bing knows what you want—and gives you the answer you need in a clear, larger format. This way you can find answers like news, weather, images and finance without clicking a link. With that answer secured, you are free to dig deeper with the results below.
Bing’s Search Brings New Brand Integration
Yahoo now uses Bing as its search engine, and with Apple’s new iOS system, Bing powers Siri. My advice? Check it out for yourself. And if you aren’t already, you just may start Binging.Want more interactive inspiration? Find out how to take your web design skills up a notch or break into the interactive design world at the 2013 HOW Interactive Design Conference. For beginning to intermediate digital designers: It’s the one interactive event you don’t want to miss!
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