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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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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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?

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...

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