Question everything generally thought to be obvious - Dieter Rams
I think Google Chrome has one of the most elegant interfaces. When it was launched, I didn’t understand the need for another web browser. But as I started using the new browser, it changed me as user and as a designer.
It showed that minimal does not mean less functionality. It also showed the importance of focusing on content above all else. Even if it means eliminating or customizing standard OS elements like titlebar and scrollbar which take up precious real estate.
There are many innovative design details in Chrome, like the tab close behavior. I really like the Find in Page feature. It is the same text search feature that is found in almost any software that displays text. You would think that by now the feature would be perfected. Chrome has very elegant solution which is better than existing implementation. It also captures its design philosophy.
Position and size
Let us see how other browsers implement this feature. Firefox and Safari show the the ‘find bar’ as one row; the former at the top of the screen and latter at the bottom. Displaying the find bar at the top is better for readability. After typing the query the user can start scanning the page from top to bottom. Otherwise, nothing really interesting about them.
Since every piece of UI was questioned by the Chrome team, the find bar, appears in the top right corner taking only the amount of horizontal space it needs. Chrome’s find bar uses only icons for previous, next and close actions. The box is positioned in the top left corner. Since content flows from left to right (with exceptions), the left side is more important for legibility than the right side.
Chrome does not have Firefox’s Match case and Highlight all options, which helps it to trim fat. These options will be useful in some circumstance. But I don’t think they are necessary for the find feature in a web browser. Also they distract the user from the actual task.
Even with its small foot print, Chrome’s find bar show the total number of search results and the position of the highlighted. Firefox and Safari in spite of taking the whole row don’t show this information.The text highlight moves automatically as the user types in the find box. The position of the current highlight amongst the total number of matches in shown right next to
The number of matching text will help the user decide how much search string to type.
Scroll bars is one of the least useful UI controls, especially for the amount of screen real estate it takes. Unfortunately it is needed in a desktop UI with keyboard mouse interaction. Chrome has special scroll bar that has one more utility. It shows the location of the matching text in the page.
More than the usefulness of the feature, what I admire is that the feature does not take any more space. In fact it adds value to space that is otherwise wasted.