Google responds to Instant Search criticism

Google’s rollout of their new Instant Search last week was definitely something new for the world of search. In an industry that typically innovates in small, incremental baby steps (at least as far as the user experience is concerned), Google’s Instant Search was a pretty big leap forward for the browser search interface. When something as big as instant Search gets unveiled, controversy is expected. When Google is the proprietor of the change, controversy is inevitable. IDG News Service, according to ComputerWorld, spoke to Othar Hansson, a Google senior staff engineer, who addressed a lot of the issues at hand.

Google pushed the speed of Instant Search as a way to speed up search times for users. A big concern is that all the constantly refreshing sidebars, advertisements and search results would actually distract the user to a point where the search time would actually increase. Hansson said that in usability testing, users tended to focus on the search box until they had their query mostly typed out. They only paid attention to the results when they had typed out what they wanted to search for. Some even thought that this was the way Google always worked. Distraction was rarely a problem, and those people can easily opt out using an easy toggle next to the search bar.

Google didn’t just change the user interface of the most popular search engine in the world. Many believe that Instant Search will change the way people search fundamentally. In and of itself, this may not seem like a bad thing, but it definitely means a shake-up in the SEO industry. In a world where correct prediction of people’s search habits turns into profit, changing the fundamentals of search could mean a similarly fundamental shift in the SEO world. Hansson, however, doesn’t believe it will affect that business so much. He said that he believes that the SEO industry is one of the more flexible areas of the technology industry. Their job is to analyze what users are searching for, and optimizing visibility based on those results. If the results change, they just need to change their algorithms a little bit. If anything, it will only drive more people to Internet search, and will likely be a boon for SEO more than a detriment.

When asked about future applications of the technology in Google products, Hansson said that he would like to see it in every search capability they dip into. Hansson also believes that this will be the default mode of search for future users. He said that most people accepted it is their preferred mode of search after 10 minutes of use. There’s very little learning curve, and the benefits are large. When people, who usually are change averse, accept a technology so quickly, there generally isn’t any looking back. 

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The problem with instant search is that the results are not the same as with the traditional search, but I seem to be the only smart person in the world so far who has noticed this...

In a world where people are too lazy to speak, or write or type, their thoughts using complete sentences, why would we expect them to shy away for autocomplete? If Google were to conceptualize the technology, and bring to market an application which would allow the Android to autocomplete actual sentences while spoken when using a phone running the Android Mobile O/S. Most would gladly opt in! The most difficulty would found in the ad integration for this application...at the beginning of the call maybe, like Google Voice?

Don't care for the new instant search.... I REALLY HATE that you can't disable autocomplete now in normal google now because of the instant search feature. They've disabled to turn on/off autocomplete now and replaced that option with instant search on/off

Infact i did this year ago in some of my projects where as you type customer name (search) gridveiw automatically get populated with customer names matching your input. In bigger projects technically it is absolute crap cause you have to make so many SQL calls to database.

For some people looks nice, but very impractical and hard on system.

This search is not any faster from user end point. This is just mimic and very annoying and i would not call it inovation.

Google put the option to disable this function for some people who wanna stay slow and stay with the old things. Peace

the live suggestions is as far as they needed to go. as-you-type-results are very distracting. opted out after 10 searches.

I had to turn it off. I'm a lousy typist and every time I'd make a typo and backspace and type and backspace.... all that result updating starts to lag and I found myself to be less productive. Some may find it handy, not so much for me.

I don't really get this. All instant search does is show you the results of the suggested search list. Until the suggestion hits what you're actually trying to type the search results aren't that relevant.

This article:
People upset about a change they can disable. Search speed generally unaffected and works the same as before outside of needing to press enter. People getting distracted because they can't be asked to focus on a single box for more than 5 seconds.

I can understand how this is more busy than Bing, however. Bing does look nicer than Google to me , but I still use Google because I do seem to find more recent stuff easier on Google.

Also, instant search is definitely not new, but I will agree that it is new to most people and to google.com. I wouldn't say that this is awesome by any means for anything I use it for, but maybe some people search in such a way that pressing enter and having to reload the page is obnoxious.

Meh, there will always be whiners when change is made. Remember the Facebook updates?

If you're that bothered about it wasting bandwidth then either turn it off or use Yahoo, Bing or any of the other search engines out there.

Google is about making our life online easier, innovation basically, bandwidth sure isn't going to hold them back.

The reason its useless to me is that when i search for something, i am searching for the whole term/phrase for a reason. Most of the time, half of the phrase would have a completely different meaning and would return completely different (and thus useless) results. It may not use much bandwidth in the grand scheme of things, but every single one of the "early" results listings it gives me IS wasted.

nowimnothing said,
The reason its useless to me is that when i search for something, i am searching for the whole term/phrase for a reason. Most of the time, half of the phrase would have a completely different meaning and would return completely different (and thus useless) results. It may not use much bandwidth in the grand scheme of things, but every single one of the "early" results listings it gives me IS wasted.

So turn it off. Problem solved.

nowimnothing said,
The reason its useless to me is that when i search for something, i am searching for the whole term/phrase for a reason. Most of the time, half of the phrase would have a completely different meaning and would return completely different (and thus useless) results. It may not use much bandwidth in the grand scheme of things, but every single one of the "early" results listings it gives me IS wasted.

+1

Python96 said,
Its Fluxing awesome, why would you criticize it?

For the record, I like instant search, however, criticism is fine, provided it is constructive. Complaining is another story. It is useless and annoying.

Those who don't like instant search should just perform the one click it takes to turn it off.

Too bad a lot of the UK and elsewhere still doesn't have internet that can make use of this.
I can imagine anything under a 10Mb connection won't benefit from it and would go as far as saying the user experience would slow down as the browser tries to display "relevant" results.

Mr Spoon said,
Too bad a lot of the UK and elsewhere still doesn't have internet that can make use of this.
I can imagine anything under a 10Mb connection won't benefit from it and would go as far as saying the user experience would slow down as the browser tries to display "relevant" results.

lol my internet is under 10mbps and it works just fine.

Mr Spoon said,
Too bad a lot of the UK and elsewhere still doesn't have internet that can make use of this.
I can imagine anything under a 10Mb connection won't benefit from it and would go as far as saying the user experience would slow down as the browser tries to display "relevant" results.

You are implying that a google search page file size is big. About 8kb for the html and then maybe about 40kb for all the images if you have them loaded. Hooray 50kb total for a search.


Yeah... A real problem we got here, especially considering a 10Mb connection can download at over 1MB/sec.

You definitely don't need a 10Mb connection in order to benefit from Google Instant Search - you don't even need a quarter of that, which means that most internet connections in the UK will cope just fine.

Personally I see it as an improvement. Most people are chronically slow at typing and this provides meaningful and useful suggestions. However, I don't find it particularly useful for me as I usually know exactly what I'm searching for and typically use the Chrome navigation bar anyway.

It amazes me the things people complain about. One person could find the experience enjoyable, while another could say it's the worst. What's so wrong about returning search results instantly?

xiphi said,
It amazes me the things people complain about. One person could find the experience enjoyable, while another could say it's the worst. What's so wrong about returning search results instantly?

almost as amazing as people thinking only their way is the right way and everyone will enjoy their way. its personal preference. if someone doesnt like what you like, dont be amazed. everybody doesnt like the same thing.

ILikeTobacco said,

almost as amazing as people thinking only their way is the right way and everyone will enjoy their way. its personal preference. if someone doesnt like what you like, dont be amazed. everybody doesnt like the same thing.

He didn't say everyone had to like it, he was just amazed by the complaining. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean you have to spend time complaining about it. The feature is easy to disable, and if you don't like it don't use it. If it really bugs people so much, maybe they should ask for their money back.

kenboldt said,

He didn't say everyone had to like it, he was just amazed by the complaining. Just because you don't like something doesn't mean you have to spend time complaining about it. The feature is easy to disable, and if you don't like it don't use it. If it really bugs people so much, maybe they should ask for their money back.

Just because you don't like when people complain, you don't have to complain about them. Same analogy.

Glendi said,

Just because you don't like when people complain, you don't have to complain about them. Same analogy.


I wasn't complaining. I was correcting ILikeTobacco, and then I offered solutions to those who don't like instant search.

Nice try though. ;-)

I don't really use it because I just use the browser to search for what I want, and rarely care about the page when I get there because I refine my search much later, and generally through the browser if I didn't like the results.

While I do believe there were good intentions, I think this was just a way for them to increase advertising profits by serving more ads to the same user in a significantly shorter amount of time.

I for one hate Google Instant. A few of my co workers have expressed the same sentiment. The problem is, is using Bing 100% of the time even plausible?

ObiWanToby said,
I for one hate Google Instant. A few of my co workers have expressed the same sentiment. The problem is, is using Bing 100% of the time even plausible?

you can disable instant.

I also think it's a very nice feature. Too bad it's Chrome dev counterpart ( --enable-match-preview ) isn't up to snuff.

Kondrath said,
I think it's great, but most of the nothing happens and the page just goes blank.

Yeah, I noticed that. Sometimes it fails and everything goes blank.

I don't use Google anymore because of it. Yeah, you can disable it, but they took the ability away to disable search suggestions (which I didn't like either). Google is getting too big for their britches anyway. I'll be rid of gmail by the end of the month also.

prime2515102 said,
I don't use Google anymore because of it.

What will you do when the other search engines follow Google's footsteps? Which search engine will you use then?

prime2515102 said,
I don't use Google anymore because of it. Yeah, you can disable it, but they took the ability away to disable search suggestions (which I didn't like either). Google is getting too big for their britches anyway. I'll be rid of gmail by the end of the month also.

....I'm sorry, really, but LOL. Dude, if you like Google results but you switched because of this, you you're not even trying. There's plenty of ways to still use a classic Google search, faster in fact, than going to their homepage. Every browser has a search / nav bar which does not use this feature, their are search addons, there is iGoogle, and there are websites that use Googles search engine without their various "features".

prime2515102 said,
I don't use Google anymore because of it. Yeah, you can disable it, but they took the ability away to disable search suggestions (which I didn't like either). Google is getting too big for their britches anyway. I'll be rid of gmail by the end of the month also.

They took away the search suggestions? Is my eyes having problems or you are just a fan boy running here and talking craps?

prime2515102 said,
I don't use Google anymore because of it. Yeah, you can disable it, but they took the ability away to disable search suggestions (which I didn't like either). Google is getting too big for their britches anyway. I'll be rid of gmail by the end of the month also.
You best be trolling. Yeah ... you are.

thornz0 said,

....I'm sorry, really, but LOL. Dude, if you like Google results but you switched because of this, you you're not even trying. There's plenty of ways to still use a classic Google search, faster in fact, than going to their homepage. Every browser has a search / nav bar which does not use this feature, their are search addons, there is iGoogle, and there are websites that use Googles search engine without their various "features".

99% of the results I get from search engines are exactly the same no matter where I search. And as far as add-ons, I won't use them until I'm forced to. As far as searching from the toolbar, I won't do it until I'm forced to.

I like having my homepage open with a search box. I've been searching that way since search was invented; I won't change for the sake of change when it's working fine for me and these new features don't improve anything.

fauxtographer said,

What will you do when the other search engines follow Google's footsteps? Which search engine will you use then?

See my reply to thornz0. When I'm forced to, I'm forced to, but right now, I'm not.

PotatoJ said,
You best be trolling. Yeah ... you are.

No idea what you're sayin' man... I'm trolling because I said I quit using something I don't like? Are you high?

thornz0 said,

....I'm sorry, really, but LOL. Dude, if you like Google results but you switched because of this, you you're not even trying. There's plenty of ways to still use a classic Google search, faster in fact, than going to their homepage. Every browser has a search / nav bar which does not use this feature, their are search addons, there is iGoogle, and there are websites that use Googles search engine without their various "features".

This is where your logic is backward. I don't owe anything to Google or any other company. If I decide that they no longer fit my needs for whatever reason, no matter how valid to you, I'm free to switch. It is Google's job to keep me interested... They lost me as well with this feature. Just not something I'm interested in even seeing.

You might take the stance that Google shouldn't care about prime or me, but the wise among us know that every dam break starts with one crack. Search is finally getting competitive again so Google has to work harder to keep me interested and every user lost is a problem for them.

But I'll let Neowin go back to the Google fanboism nerdgasm.

People are weird...and its not like they cant do the same old same old via iGoogle or their browsers search / nav bar.

thornz0 said,
People are weird...and its not like they cant do the same old same old via iGoogle or their browsers search / nav bar.

People moaned when car was invented.

stevember said,

People moaned when car was invented.


That doesn't surprise me. Why are people so scared of innovation?

Tbh, it annoys me because I'm not on a particularly fast laptop - it feels fast yet laggy. I'm keeping it on to see if I get used to it, but not quite feeling it yet.

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.
doesn't waste that much bandwidth.... you could do MANY searches before it would consume the bandwidth used by most short youtube videos...

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.

I reckon it save in long run.

I find it handy.

Rudy said,
People criticized it? I think it's awesome

Some people on the internet can crticise anything and everything - hell they'd probably even complain if they randomly received a £250,000 cheque through the mail.

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.

"wastes bandwidth"??? I think this can be more appropriately said of Facebook and Myspace. Google is at least useful.

Rudy said,
doesn't waste that much bandwidth.... you could do MANY searches before it would consume the bandwidth used by most short youtube videos...

"that much bandwidth" depends on who you are. if you have unlimited bandwidth, its not an issue. if you pay for ever mb you use, its a waste. i am sure people who use a tethered device dont appreciate having to "disable" something that is costs and is enabled by default. that being said, its not hard to get around it.

i personally don't like it because it makes my ADD go nuts .

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.

Its useful, but it is a waste of bandwidth. As soon as you type 1 word it starts giving you results. People who don't think it is a waste of bandwidth don't understand bandwidth or have unlimited connections. People who count the MB are annoyed, but it is easy to turn off. Saying that Google instant search is an OK waste of bandwidth because MySpace and Facebook waste more bandwidth are misguided. That is terrible reasoning.

The Teej said,

Some people on the internet can crticise anything and everything - hell they'd probably even complain if they randomly received a £250,000 cheque through the mail.

Yes, I have because the cheque wasn't for my name...

Rudy said,
doesn't waste that much bandwidth.... you could do MANY searches before it would consume the bandwidth used by most short youtube videos...

Sure, some Internet content uses more bandwidth than other Internet content. So lets just have everything use a lot of bandwidth just for the sake of being wasteful. Very progressive thinking, there.

fauxtographer said,

"wastes bandwidth"??? I think this can be more appropriately said of Facebook and Myspace. Google is at least useful.

well said dude, those places and the spam mail really waste bandwidth, I guess that for many people its just too fast and they get like a mental block and loose focus....if it were always on and no way to turn it off yeah that would be a valid point.

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.

Vista added Index Search, I think it waste my HDD usage, should Microsoft kill it?

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.

Heh, of the hundreds of gigs I've downloaded this month. I can be rest assured, at least 0.001% was from downloading search results.

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.
I just did a test with a few (admittedly short queries). In every test, Instant actually saved me bandwidth by not reloading assets through the page refresh action. For longer queries, Instant would use up a teensy tiny bit more bandwidth, but we're talking probably 20KB.

I wouldn't criticize the extra bandwidth use if it actually added some value for me, but I type quickly enough that even assuming I was capable of analyzing intermediate search results while typing at 80wpm, the time savings would be negligable.

I can see how it might help hunt-and-peckers though, so I'm not saying it shouldn't have been created, but the question was asked if people had criticized it and I gave a reason that one might.

Elliott said,
I just did a test with a few (admittedly short queries). In every test, Instant actually saved me bandwidth by not reloading assets through the page refresh action. For longer queries, Instant would use up a teensy tiny bit more bandwidth, but we're talking probably 20KB.

I can totally corroborate this. I also did some tests following the other article about this where everyone was again complaining about bandwidth usage. An instant search refresh (this includes advancing to the next page of results) takes between 20 and 30 kb. A results page refresh took at minimum 190kb. In general usage it saves a lot of bandwidth.

And like I said in the other article, if you know exactly what you're searching for and cherish every kb of bandwidth usage then why are you even visiting a search engine? Why not conserve even more bandwidth and use the search box in your browser.

The Teej said,

Some people on the internet can crticise anything and everything - hell they'd probably even complain if they randomly received a £250,000 cheque through the mail.

But i did. From the generous african people.

geoken said,

And like I said in the other article, if you know exactly what you're searching for and cherish every kb of bandwidth usage then why are you even visiting a search engine? Why not conserve even more bandwidth and use the search box in your browser.

+1

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.

Besides finding what you need faster? It's just text anyway, no real bandwidth to talk about.

Even a single JPG image of a lolcat on the Neowin boards would be in a different ballpark than a page of text.

Shadrack said,

Its useful, but it is a waste of bandwidth. As soon as you type 1 word it starts giving you results. People who don't think it is a waste of bandwidth don't understand bandwidth or have unlimited connections. People who count the MB are annoyed, but it is easy to turn off. Saying that Google instant search is an OK waste of bandwidth because MySpace and Facebook waste more bandwidth are misguided. That is terrible reasoning.

to conserve bandwidth, you should shut down those facebook rubbish first. why not shut down the iphone? it wastes more bandwidth than anything.

JonathanMarston said,

It wastes bandwidth and doesn't help anything. So yeah, I've criticized it.


you really have such a suck ass isp that this worries you about bandwidth ?