Google is reportedly conducting a test for a new official store design that will refocus the site on brands instead of product categories. Spotted under what appears to be A/B testing, the redesign delivers a couple of key benefits. But the most noticeable difference will is the new top navigation bar.
Google has summarily replaced all of the categories-based drop-down menus in the navigation pane. Those were previously designated as Phones, Connected Home, Gaming, Laptops & Tablets, Accessories, and Special Offers. The latter two categories remain unchanged. But in place of Phones, for starters, the company now showcases a “Pixel” category, aligning with its own phone branding.
Connected Home has similarly been rebranded as “Nest,” while Gaming now reads “Stadia.” The Laptops & Tablets category has been relabeled “Pixelbook.”
This brands-focused test could lead to further rebranding and reorganization
For now, the Google Store test site showcases at least a few discrepancies in the brands too. Namely, Chromecast devices such as the Chromecast Ultra are found under the Nest drop-down menu. Specifically, those are found in the “Streaming” subcategory under the smart home brand label. Chromecast is its own brand, technically separate from Nest, with the latter company focusing more directly on smart home devices.
That could imply further planned changes to branding for Chromecast too. It seems unlikely that the currently Google-branded gadgets will be dubbed “Nest” devices in the future. But Google has gone that route before, most recently with its Home-branded smart speakers and displays. That’s a change that started back in early 2019. So it wouldn’t be surprising to see Google eventually change branding here for consistency.
That may be the purpose behind the test as well, as Google continues to consolidate its various branches. The search giant hasn’t necessarily been known for keeping its offerings coherently nested under any given brand. Its launch of no fewer than five consumer chat apps over the past several years is a prime example of that. But the company has made efforts to bring a more coherent structure to its brands too.
Aside from that possibility, Google’s change also shortens the amount of top bar space taken up by navigation. That creates some separation between the search, help, cart, and Google account icons and the main product navigation. The use of white space is better and the site looks cleaner as a result.
When and if this change arrives at all
As hinted above, Google doesn’t always stick to these types of changes in the long-term. And this does appear to be under A/B testing. That means the test is limited in terms of the number of users who are seeing the new UI. In this case, the test also seems to be limited to specific platforms. For example, the changes also haven’t been applied to the mobile version of the site at all.
The implication of that is that the new UI is still under early testing. It may never arrive at all for every user.