Google: Simplicty, Meet Power

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In the war between simplicity and power, there are those on each side that say you must sacrifice one to get the other. But as Google shows us, you can have both without sacrificing one for the other.

The Google homepage is relatively unchanged from when its founders created it. Sure, they’ve added links to their features and some other things, but for the most part it’s unchanged. It’s central theme is a core search box, which is right in the center of the page.

Google’s power does not lie in it’s front page. It lies in the underlying system that Google has developed. Google compensates for perhaps an overly simplistic interface by a balance of intuition and old-fashioned Boolean commands. For example, search with the words AND, OR, NOT, etc and that changes your search. But that’s not the power of Google.

Google has spent countless hours figuring out what you’re looking for. They do it based on your location, the results of others, how accurate their results were in the past, and good old fashioned common sense. I’m often amazed that Google will take a generic term for a local business and put that business on top – all because Google knows where I am. It’s amazing.

Google is a company that took the time to engineer their software so it would be easy to use. Their success is a perfect example of why this strategy works – because people respond favorably to it.

When designing, you don’t need to sacrifice power for simplicity. And you need to put in a link to the advanced features, do so (even Google as a link to Advanced Search). But never sacrifice the features you need for the simplicity you desire. Figure out a way to do both.

Brandon Savage is the author of Mastering Object Oriented PHP and Practical Design Patterns in PHP

Posted on 8/31/2008 at 7:49 pm
Categories: Usability, Web Architecture
Tags: , , , ,

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