Google has added an image of the Google toolbar to their main page. For most companies this wouldn’t be a big deal – adding a small image for marketing purposes is commonplace. But in Google’s case, where a streamlined front page is critical, it stuck out like a sore thumb for me.
In a 2003 “Fast Company article”:http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/69/google.html titled “How Google Grows…and Grows…and Grows” the author highlited this using the example of a small string of text that had appeared on the front page (“New! Take your search further. Take a Google Tour.”):
bq(quote). If you’re a Google engineer, you know that those nine words comprised about 120 bytes of data, enough to slow download time for users with modems by 20 to 50 milliseconds. You can estimate the stress that 120 bytes, times millions of searches per minute, put on Google’s 10,000 servers. On the other hand, you can also measure precisely how many visitors took the tour, how many of those downloaded the Google Toolbar, and how many clicked through for the first time to Google News.
In this case it’s a 3630 byte image file, which again, for most sites is nothing but in the case of Google, the site a majority of internet users see first thing every time they open their browser, it is critically important to understand the impact.
Of course someone has appeared to do something right since from this user’s experience the page is still the lighting quick loading page I expect. Still, I hope they take that image down soon because it really is standing out like a sore thumb for me. I suppose I’ll have to go download the damn thing. They win.
bq(update). [UPDATE] – Just noticed that on a computer where I have installed the Google toolbar that I don’t see the advertising – which of course makes sense.