Once on a backpacking, cross-country tour of Europe the self-proclaimed "renaissance man" and wealthy world-traveler Google came upon the small town of Bassersdorf in Switzerland. As he strolled the quaint streets he came upon an old woman who looked lost. She proclaimed "Ich suche nach Wasser" ("I need to find water"), wherein Google replied, "Meinten Sie Spirituosengeschäft?" ("Did you mean liquor store?"). The woman scratched her head and walked away.
As a child Google was a know it all, who thrived on being right. Even in the remote chance of him being wrong, and someone having the fortune to have caught his foible, Google managed to make anyone appear dumb. Yet through it all he remained charming, and endearing to most students - somehow managing to become class president (through process of accumulation, which infuriated his school-time rival Microsoft who did the exact same things but somehow always ended up in the school newspaper or principals office). Google can often be seen looking for his name in the library index cards.
Despite Google's purposeful lack of design and supreme faith in functionality the "main" website remains crowded amongst of vast open space — like 3 people ass-to-elbows in a freight elevator. Why not align text and information page-center and flush left? As monitor resolutions grow (with 86% of screen at 1024x768 or higher) the triangulation of the "header" area, contrasted with the search area becomes tenuous (as the eye finds it harder to "connect" the space the wider it becomes). I've tried to admire the "simplicity" of the site, but find it superfluous.
Don't get me started on the logo (obviously designed by an IT guy who "had to throw something up" as they presented to investors) — I have never ever liked the Google logo ever; but that's not the point of w.w.w.. The overall sense one gets from any Google page; not merely the main landing pages, is that functionality and bare-bones simplicity — reinforced with a sophisticated use of emerging technology in AJAX, etc — trump any infusion of design to enhance the user experience. I do admire their strict adherence to keeping the interface and overall look as simple as possible, and not succumbing to fads and trends, the lack of distractions makes the overall user experience (nearly) fool-proof.