I love coming across a new site to see some company try something completely different than what we are used to seeing and that’s the feeling I get when I visit the latest search engine to hit the web, Snap.
They have taken a different approach with regards to search engine box placement by vertically centering it in the browser, although I’m not exactly sure it is centered on my monitor. This is pretty cool for users with smaller resolutions, but at larger resolutions the amount of screen real estate not being used at the top of the screen is a bit daunting. It wouldn’t chase me away from the site, but I think it’s just a design choice that works better at smaller resolutions than larger ones which is becoming pretty rare now.
To me its obvious that they want you to use the search box only because the rest of the links on the site blend in with the background and use a 9px font. I’m not sure if they were attempting to go minimal, but that shouldn’t include using the smallest sized font you could find (even smaller than this site!) containing very important information for users who aren’t familiar with your service.
In this case I think the site was designed for the “Web 2.0” crowd because it’s possible we take the time to explore a page thoroughly when we come across something new. However, I don’t think it’s safe to assume that an everyday user is just going to use the search box without questioning why the site is better than Google or how to really use the search results.
There is more than enough room to include a box with a snippet of information and links that encourages users to explore the site to get a better feel for how Snap works. After some time they can remove the box and achieve the minimalist effect they are currently aiming for without effecting traffic one way or another.
With all of that said from an aesthetic standpoint I really like the look of the site and it’s choice of colors and fonts (ignoring the impossibly small links) and look forward to exploring the site a bit further. I would love to give a more detailed writeup on Snap out the door by Friday going over how the search engine actually works if you should even bother moving away from the Goog.