I'm Back and I'm Pleading for a New Design

MyUser MyUser
Created: 2 years and 4 months ago • Updated: 2 years and 4 months ago
Dear forum members, community leaders and, especially, staff members:

I'd like to advocate for a better design and I'm really serious here. DuckDuckGo is awesome and there design looks good but there are some pretty basic things that need improvement, in my opinion. Please, disagree but I need you to read my post and take into account everything I say. I want DDG to be the best it can be so, if you're a staff member, please understand that any put downs I may make of your design comes from my love for your project.

What is DuckDuckGo? What defines it? There are probably two or three main things:
1. It doesn't track you. There's nothing we can do to make that better because the DDG staff have already done such a darn good job.
2. It has instant answers. Search engines like AltaVista made the internet better by returning relevant documents. Google made search better by showing the most relevant documents at the top. DuckDuckGo has made search better by showing the direct answers to your questions (plus results).
3. It's easy to use and looks good. Seriously, DuckDuckGo looks awesome. It's got the best home page, it's got the best logo (seriously, a duck! How much better can you get?) and it's got a really awesome privacy policy and about page.

So, let's get going. First off, let's try DuckDuckGo out on an easy search: "duckduckgo."


Good. I've got the information I want. The website is there (I'm already on it), the Wikipedia page is there and a few other things. Most importantly, there's an Instant Answer at the top showing an excerpt from the Wikipedia page ("DuckDuckGo is an Internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers' privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines …") it's logo and some basic info about it.

First, note that the screen looks a bit crowded. This is easily remedied and isn't a particularly big problem. However, the page does feel a bit to messy and like there's too much going on.

The information that we have above the fold line includes DDG's official website, the Wikipedia article, an ad from Amazon and a CNET download.

Now, let's look at Google's search page.


Note that the Wikipedia article result was below the fold line but I included it just to show something else.

Google also has the official website at the top. However, it goes further and provides jumping off points into the website, main pages that it thinks will be useful (by the way, I captured this in Private Browsing so it's not influenced by my previous searches). On the right hand side, it has a box containing information about DuckDuckGo (pretty much the same stuff in the About box on DDG's page, though a bit less). Finally, it includes DDG's Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, an extra touch.

Near the bottom of the page, you see DuckDuckGo's Twitter (much more useful than a CNET download). Right beneath it is DDG's latest blog post (which is, BTW, actually @duckduckgo's latest tweet).

In my opinion, Google has won this round. All the information it's got is relevant and purely related/endorsed/about DuckDuckGo. It looks kind of nice (though Google always looks a bit too formulaic, a mistake DuckDuckGo has thankfully avoided). However, DuckDuckGo was really close behind. DDG has a bit extra info from Wikipedia. Unfortunately the IA box is a bit too dark so your eyes naturally glaze over it, not noticing or immediately comprehending the text inside. (Google is just as bad. It's got it's box out of the way on the right.)

The point I'm trying to make is that Google has fit in a lot of useful information into their page, using a larger font size. DuckDuckGo has some more information to be added to the page and that's cool. You'll notice that Google's design has still more space to add more info. Obviously, there's an opportunity for more stuff and the crucial info can be put in before the fold line.

So, let's stop comparing it with Google. Let's do something you can only do on DuckDuckGo: click the "Show More" button.

The "Show More" button in the About IA is pretty promising. It gives the impression that we can see more immediately without having to wait for a page to load and going to a completely different view. Yet all it does is finish the paragraph! It doesn't even finish the introduction! It would be incredibly easy (meaning 1-12 lines of code more easy) to make it show all of the Wikipedia entry or even just the intro).


There are a couple more problems with the IA ribbon (or at least I think that's what it's called). First, you only see one IA at a time and they're usually small. Seriously, the IAs are the main thing about DDG search. They should be given as much space as they can and it should show as many as possible in the initial view. Also, the IA ribbon is a bit too dark and the text too light (and also the look a bit generic) so one's eyes often glaze over it to the results below.

Instant Answers are the future of search. We need to give them more space and let them shine. Please, listen to my cries. I'm am a longtime user of DuckDuckGo, I know how to program, I've created my own websites and I know good design. If it weren't for DuckDuckGo's privacy and startup nature, I'd be using Google. IAs seriously need to be useful, not just an addon at the top showing a preview of what the results show below.

With that in mind, I spent two days and much of my valuable school time creating a mock up of a possible redesign for the DuckDuckGo search page. It includes many of the suggestions I've made and is intended to prove that more information can be fit into the page with good design. Please understand that this is not the only way and that any mistakes I made in the design should not be used to make my entire argument invalid. I hope that you are inspired by what you see and that you begin to see DuckDuckGo's future the same way I have.

So this is what I created:

Please, I want to start a discussion here. To the members of this forum: show your support or tell me I'm wrong, just don't glance over this post and do nothing. To the community leaders: tell the staff about this, if you can, show your support or tell me I'm wrong. To the staff: Please respond. Tell me if I'm wrong, argue with me, do what you want, but please don't ignore this. And finally to everyone: help me improve my design. Make it better or suggest alternative ways of doing what we all want to achieve.

I am dedicated to seeing a new design on DuckDuckGo, a design that shows more information and is more useful to the user. If you would like to contact me personally, you can follow @thegoodsite on Twitter (which is my organization's Twitter handle) and I can send you an email address.

This is it. It's time to move DuckDuckGo forward the other half step.

Attached Files: 1
newdesign.png - Full

This forum has been archived

Thank you all for the many comments, questions and suggestions. Particular thanks go to user x.15a2 for constantly monitoring, replying and helping so many users here. To continue these discussions, please head over to the DuckDuckGo subreddit.

Hi MyUser, I'd like to say that your design is innovative yet I believe it has some problems. It is too much things on one page. Showing all the instant awnsers together uses all the space of the DDG page results. But I agree on the DDG wikipedia instant awnser it should show the whole paragraph instead of a few lines. Also please see this cool design I found and tell me what you think about it.
posted by duckduckian 2 years and 4 months ago Link
Yes, I was worried about that. Also, the design you linked to is pretty good looking. I would love it if DDG adopted it even if they didn't do a radical redesign.
posted by MyUser 2 years and 4 months ago Link
Your critics/suggestions are helpful, but the example image you attached is too much a mess imho. Too many things, too many big things opened by default and the normal results look like they have the less important part there.
posted by <hidden> • 2 years and 4 months ago Link
Yes, I agree that my design is a bit overly complicated and I'm certainly open to improving it. Do you have any suggestions on how to get to the same place, but with better looking design? I would love to redo a bit of it.
posted by MyUser 2 years and 4 months ago Link
Agree. How about improving DDG's default page this way:

As I can see, there's too much waste space on the right of result section. Can you turn it into a 2-column search results like what they do in newspapers?

aaa | ccc
bbb | ddd

And/or can you make it possible to preview a result's website when hovering over a link?
posted by dd721411 2 years and 4 months ago Link
Previews have been asked for many times before. I like the idea but I think the problem holding them back was to do with server resources (at least that's what would hold back me).

On the subject of the newspaper layout... That would actually be pretty cool as a theme. Really, it would be great if DuckDuckGo allowed you to customize your layout a bit.

However, it's worth noting: Don't you mean:

aaa | bbb
ccc | ddd

Otherwise you'd have to scroll all the way to the bottom of one column, then up to the top to go down the next one. Just saying. :)
posted by MyUser 2 years and 4 months ago Link
Ha ha. You're right. I meant the latter layout:

Result #1 | Result #2
Result #3 | Result #4

would be cool. It can save lots of waste space of a page as well as time for skimming through results. Win-win!

About previews, I didn't know much about the server resource problem but it'd be awesome if DDG people can implement it in the near future. It's not their priority though.
posted by dd721411 2 years and 4 months ago Link
posted by MyUser 2 years and 4 months ago Link