Someone Give The Good People at Google News Lab a Raise
Someone at Google needs to give Simon Rogers and his peeps at the Google News Lab a raise. Their latest execution of the Year in Search is awe-worthy from both a design and journalistic standpoint. Clearly Google knew what it was doing when it snagged Rogers who previously worked for The Guardian and Twitter in March.
For starters, watch Google’s video highlighting some of the major search trends below. You’ll absolutely have goosebumps.
Now, let’s break down what’s new and improved in this year’s rendition of Google’s Year in Searches.
Upon first glance, initial impressions are that the page is laid out much like the front page of a newspaper – complete with headlines, striking images and pull stats. Essentially, the page packs a lot more data “above the fold” with less of a need to scroll. It is very easy to digest and definitely reflects the latest digital design trends. Content-wise, it touches on the good, the bad and the in-between moments from the past year- as if 2015 was put into a feature film on fast-forward rewind with someone hitting the pause button as each major event materialized on the screen.
The real magic happens, though, when you dig into each “moment.” The “moment” or topic with the highest search volume around it was the Paris attacks that occurred in early November. The page, or story, for this event is exceptionally well done and, in my opinion, a success by all journalistic standards. One one page, Google accurately captures and conveys a very tragic story with a skill and finesse that only the best, and most seasoned journalists usually achieve.
For one, the pull facts they highlighted are really nice and give a good statistical overview of what happened during the events leading up to, during and after the attacks. Dispersed in between these facts, Google offers Hemmingway-style summaries- brief but enough to convey everything necessary. Beyond that though, you can see that Google chose to spotlight the things they did to tell a story.
By reading through the searches, you can see how humanity reacted to this tragedy-what they were thinking-what they felt the need to know more about-and what their biggest fears were. This data is remarkable because it does what data doesn’t usually do: it behaves in a very human way. It gives actual, raw insight into human nature, something we generally associate as being totally discrete and indecipherable by science.
You can also see, visually, how news of event rippled around the world and affected humanity on a global scale which, in itself, is pretty profound.
The interactive visualizations are really something special though. Bravo to Anna Vital at the Google News Lab on this one.
By interacting with this graphic, users are able to dig deeper and get a better understanding of how people around the world turned to Google to understand the events in Paris as they unfolded. All over people entered search terms to try to get a grasp of who the individuals who attacked Paris were. In Sydney, people wondered “Why Paris?” In Madrid, users wanted to know how they could display the France flag on their Facebook profiles.
And like any good expose, the page ends with a strong emotional appeal, and gives all the good feels by showcasing the video of Richard Lenoir, the man who played “Imagine” outside of the theater where most of the attacks took place.