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1/4 of all users cannot do a Google search

   
8:00 pm on Mar 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Jakob Nielsen comes up with a startling revelation in his latest Alertbox article:

If you thought it's easy to get to Google, think again. In our current round of usability research, only 76% of users who expressed a desire to run a Google search were successful. In other words, 1/4 of users who wanted to use Google couldn't do so. (Instead, they either completely failed to get to any search engine or ended up running their query on a different search engine usually whatever type-in field happened to be at hand.)

[useit.com...]

I know that the average user is not all that savvy, but this study just doesn't ring true to me - all due respect to Jakob. How do others see that number - a 24% failure rate?

3:26 pm on Mar 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



...[when I] consider the questions I get from clients, friends, and family, and the general all-around [...] cluelessness of so many of the people I know who don't work in this business for a living, it seems about right. If anything, as the article noted, the failure rate is probably higher across the entire online population.

Before you mock, a quick reality check:

How many car drivers know how to check their oil? How many car drivers even know that having enough oil is essential for their vehicle to work?

How many adults could tell you the ingredients of a loaf of bread, never mind tell you how to bake bread?

Re: Google search, I don't find the 76% figure surprising, but I don't really feel the urge to mock the 24% people either. In many aspects of life I'm definitely one of the 24% not the 76%!

When my car needs attention I take it straight to the mechanic, but I do regularly bake my own bread

1:49 am on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



even simple instructions seem like latin to them...

Graecum est; non potest legi...

3:14 am on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Arguably, the more complexity there is on a page the more likely it is that people will become confused.

Agreed, which is why I suggested random tips, with link to more tips/info.
Another way might be v basic info, and more on mouseover: google bods can surely come up w something; maybe in past, aiming for people who used search engines like excite - not that I can remember if they had how to info!

Less is more, but nothing is nothing.

Really, though, seems to me this is a discussion that shouldn't even be taking place.
Google should have this issue nailed, and instead should be chance for thread on how superbly google blends minimalism with usability - for techies and non-techies alike.
Meanwhile, other search engines may take note: search results matter; but could be value in having friendlier approach.

2:34 pm on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Less is more, but nothing is nothing

Well said -- a very simple "how to search" explanation may open a lot of untrained eyes.

What confounds me however is not that so many people do not know how to search, or how to use a browser address field, or how to type out a URL -- after all, everyone was new to this at some point -- but rather, what I find astonishing is the active resistance to even wanting to learn. This stuff does not require climbing up a ladder and putting on a tar roof on a hot July day -- you do it all from the comfort of your easy chair. How hard can that be?

..........................

2:56 pm on Mar 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Judging by some of my contacts who haven't learned the basics even after many years - the problem is they think they already learned how to do it, and what they are doing works for them. Reminds me of Mark Twain:

"That fellow knows a lot of stuff, but most of what he knows ain't true."

3:36 pm on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member



This thread has just reminded me of a previous job. I was showing something to a very experienced programmer when he suddenly said "hey, you aren't looking at the keyboard". Now if an IT professional can work with a keyboard for years without picking up the rudiments of touch typing what can we expect of non professionals?
11:14 pm on Mar 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



I think the tittle of this thread is not what Jakob Nielsen means in his article. What he means is "1/4 of all users cannot get to Google search engine to do a search".

I'm talking only about the very first step in searching the Web: Getting to your favorite search engine so that you can run a search there...
...
If you thought it's easy to get to Google, think again. In our current round of usability research, only 76% of users who expressed a desire to run a Google search were successful. In other words, 1/4 of users who wanted to use Google couldn't do so. (Instead, they either completely failed to get to any search engine or ended up running their query on a different search engine usually whatever type-in field happened to be at hand.)

Thus, the first step is to get to Google search engine and the second step is to do a search. He was talking only about the first step.

1:50 pm on Mar 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



Before you mock, a quick reality check:

How many car drivers know how to check their oil? How many car drivers even know that having enough oil is essential for their vehicle to work?

How many adults could tell you the ingredients of a loaf of bread, never mind tell you how to bake bread?

Amen! How many of us would survive if we had to know how to hunt, forage, farm, etc. The skills we have are hot right now, perhaps into the future, but certainly weren't in the past.

I got a Zune for Christmas, I am using it at a fairly minimal level because the interface seems very counterintuitive to me. If I were more determined, or surrounded by friends who used them, I would get much more out of it. But as it is, I am a Zune idiot. I have empathy for all the internet idiots out there.

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