Google stops showing authors in search
The writing was on the wall for Google Authorship last June when the company stopped showing author pictures in search results. Now it seem as though authorship is gone completely, with a simple message about the issue from Google reading
"Authorship markup is no longer supported in web search"
The end of author rank?
What the above and rather curt statement means is that the whole notion of "author rank" - the idea that Google was somehow using Google+, your follower count and other social data to establish if you were a 'quality' author and bump you up the search ladder accordingly - is dead and buried. Annoying if you've invested a bit of time in trying to second guess exactly how Google was going about this, and make yourself into a quality author - but on the plus side, it means that webmasters and web designers no longer have to worry about fiddly processes involved in setting up Google Authorship on a website...
Don't forget about Google+ though...
Google+ is still important though - Google’s Webmaster Trends analyst John Mueller has the following to say about it:
"Search users will still see Google+ posts from friends and pages when they’re relevant to the query — both in the main results, and on the right-hand side. Today’s authorship change doesn’t impact these social features."
As such I would always recommend using Google+ regularly to share your content with your circles (particularly if you have a large following). In addition to making your posts more visible to your followers who are searching for particular topics, there are a number of other ways that Google+ can impact on search results, as this interesting Search Engine Watch article spells out.
Do you need to remove the Authorship markup code?
I scrolled down the comments below John Mueller's post about the death of Google Authorship and in response to a follower query regarding whether it should be removed or not, he has this to say about it:
"Leaving it is fine, it won't cause problems (and perhaps your users appreciate being able to find out more about you through your profile too)"
So you needn't worry too much (or worry your web designer too much!) about leaving the code in your website - it's not going to do any damage.