You don’t hear the term dancing baloney much anymore, but about a decade ago it was the standard description of gratuitous Web gadgetry that designers added to Web pages for no discernable purpose other than that they could. Microsoft yesterday announced a makeover of the formerly spartan Live Search home page and the only way I can classify it is as dancing baloney:
The new design features background images that will change frequently, augmented with what we call "hotspots." These interactive areas highlight parts of the image and help you explore search results related to the highlighted area. Users who have tested this new home page have found it both engaging and a great place to start a search.
Right now the background image seems to be from Botswana and the hidden hotspots reveal various Botswana related factoids. Apparently the "users who have tested this new home page" for Microsoft have a lot of time on their hands.
Speaking of home page makeovers, Microsoft is apparently also rolling out one for MSN, and while I detest the MSN home page heartily for its default mixture of supermarket checkout style celebrity news and cloying shopping and "self help" articles, this change looks more useful.
The good news that the new version (check it out here) adds a sidebar with a tabbed interface for Hotmail, Messenger and Spaces. The bad news is that also adds a player for MSN video with a default selection of "fun" videos which, as I write, features a man completely covered with tattoos. I guess it is someplace for the Live Search test users to go when they get tired of Botswana.