This is one of those minor tweaks that removes something that’s been stuck in my craw for awhile. Google’s reworked its search engine’s results page so that the left hand navigation menu is now above the results. This means that, if I want to invoke one of the many search tools – think date range or verbatim search (the replacement of the boolean plus sign) – the menus are immediately accessible.
This helps searchers in two ways. First, there’s no additional scrolling to get to the search tools, which often seemed to be below the fold. Second, if you can’t remember whether a given tool exists, it is easier to refresh your memory. Since search tools are context-sensitive, with different ones appearing depending on whether you’re searching for images, the Web, or Google Books, you can get on with refining your search results more quickly now.