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- July 16, 2012
Every year Google gathers a list of the top search queries from their users in the US and 50 countries worldwide. The list is called, "Zeitgeist," which comes from German meaning, "The spirit of the times." Hot off the success of the 20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web site that Fi built for Google, the agency was again chosen to tackle the Zeitgeist initiative.
Google worked closely with Fi to design and develop the look and feel of these interactive search query visualizations. This project was focused on user interaction and interpreting the search data in a more intuitive and visual way. The project revolved around two types of data sets: major global events and lists of top ten queries filtered by various criteria. The goal of the former was to create a fun and informative geographic overview of five major events of 2010 like the World Cup. Users need to have control over what data is displayed and should should also be able to interact with the data in different ways that showcase it from various perspectives. The top ten lists were meant to easily convey the 'fastest rising' queries in a variety of topics as well provide ways to compare queries against each other.
About the Project
The global events visualization is an interactive world map that displays animated data 'spikes' for each country that represent the individual search interest for each event. Users can select multiple events to compare search interest between countries and can also zoom in and drag the map around to visualize the data on a more regional basis. They can also see how search interest for each event varied over time with the timeline controls, which let the user jump to a specific time during the year or playback the entire year as a loop. For example, when playing back the data for the World Cup, the searches increase gradually until the event begins, at which point the searches shoot up dramatically across the globe.
The top ten lists display data about top queries in all parts of the globe and are generally divided into lists of top people and top queries overall. Users are presented with visually delightful three-dimensional bar charts that animate onto the screen to highlight the comparison between each query. On clicking through to a single query, a yearly line chart of search interest dances across the screen, including points of interest and related articles throughout the year. Users can also pit queries against each other and see how search interest compared over time. This visualization was entirely canvas based -- using the latest HTML5 technology -- but also provides a fallback option for users with older browsers.
The Zeitgeist visualizations are as aesthetically pleasing as they are informative, which gives this year's report that extra bit of impact and interest that Fi is known for producing. The result was an informative display that let users not just learn about the yearly trends in search, but interact with them on a new level. Be sure to check out the project for yourself.
A collection of components from Google Zeitgeist
December 9, 2010
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