Google appears to be rolling out a new design for the previews within image search results. When you click on an image, instead of loading the preview in a black background frame as it did previously, Google is now showing the image preview on the right-hand side. Many on social media and in forums are seeing this new design and interface, and I am personally able to replicate it in Chrome on my Mac while logged into Google.
The last design change to Google Image search was back in September 2018.
What does the image preview look like now? The screenshot above shows the image layout, including a white preview box on the right side. It shows a larger thumbnail of the image, the site name, title, description, copyright message, a share button, bookmark button, and a link to “see more.” It also shows related images and related searches for that specific image.
Here is that screenshot that you can click on to enlarge:
What did the image preview look like before? I can currently access the old design in Chrome but only when signed out. The big difference is the black background preview area that shows similar information as the new design but kills a lot of space.
Here is a screenshot of the old image preview that you can click on to enlarge:
Is this rolling out to everyone? It is unclear. We emailed Google to determine if this is a full rollout, a test to a limited number of searchers or a regional rollout. Google is well known for testing user interfaces and designs within their services. In addition, with image search, Google may use one page layout in the U.S. and a totally different design in Germany for legal and compliance reasons.
Why does it matter? At first glance, the new design for the preview makes the preview window less noticeable. If fewer people see the preview window, it might lead to fewer clicks on the image that take the searcher to the page with the image on it. So it may lead to less traffic to the site hosting this specific image.