Posted October 30, 2009 10:24 am by with 13 comments

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Google is always testing and tweaking its search interface. More recently, the search engine has tested a minimalist homepage design.

Well, apparently that homepage might be a little too simple for the search-challenged, as the latest version adds the rather obvious “Press Enter to Search” text.


I know that I’m not representative of the average search user, but I’m shocked that the average user might not know to simply click “enter” in the absence of any “search” button.

Let this be a reminder to all web site owners. If the most popular–and easiest to use–web site in the world has to point out the obvious, you shouldn’t take for granted that your visitors will know how to use your site.

  • I have a “Return” key–do you think that’s compatible?
    .-= Matt Cutts´s last blog ..Export your Google Docs data =-.

    • Funny! But you know what, it would not surprise me if Google is also testing the alternative text with “return” instead of “enter” 😛

      • Uhaha.. I actually don’t see anything wrong in this phrase.. There is gotta be something pointing to “form submit” action, even if everybody knows that.. this is kinda like road signs.. most of them have words typed in addition to sign itself, doesn’t mean than people don’t know what it means :)))

  • Are you kidding? The average user can barely turn on their computer. Just today I received an email from an e-commerce site owner friend of mine who received an angry email from a customer accusing them of storing their credit card information. In fact, what they were experiencing was their browser’s own auto-fill feature. Wasn’t there a man on the street survey done by one of the engines recently where the vast majority of respondents indicated they did not know what a “browser” was? We all run in more web savvy circles likely, but the masses out there are completely confounded by 75% of the how’s and why’s of computers, much less web based apps and services.
    .-= Terry Howard´s last blog ..Children’s Decor: Art Gifts for Kids =-.

  • Just like anything else on the planet, the further you get inside of something (in this case, Internet marketing) the further removed you get from those who you are actually supposed to be talking to. That disconnect with designers and business folks in general needs to be called out every day. People who use the net to buy stuff just use it, they don’t build it and they don’t care to.

    The Internet marketing industry would be well served to get over itself ( there is room for at least one more glad handing, back slapping insider Internet marketing event isn’t there? GAG!) and really talk to the people that we are supposedly ‘talking’ to and working for.

    Just a little pre-weekend vitriol for ya!
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..Under Staffed, Over Worked, Under Paid and Under ‘Passioned’ =-.

  • I’m guessing that more and more people are coming to Google from AOL these days, so the kind people at Google recognized through click patterns that they had to do something to address that crowd. It’s the only logical explanation I can think of.
    .-= Alan Bleiweiss´s last blog ..Six Rules for Custom eCommerce SEO =-.

  • Andy this is what the Heath brothers call “the curse of knowledge”. It’s hard to believe that people don’t know these “simple” things, but they don’t. You had to learn at some point way back in your early internet days that hitting enter works the same as submit or search. There is nothing intuitive about about hitting the enter key to search – unless you know your way around a keyboard. The world is full of novices.

  • There are many people coming now new to the internet, who never before can use a computer. For many years i took for granted that people can handle single things like a drop down menue in an inquiry form (e.g. for a travel inquiry with one, tweo or three legs). It is about a year now that I observe that people have problems with it. I am already contemplating whether I should produce an explaining screen video if I have a more complicated inquiry form to be filled by prospects.
    .-= Johannes Stockburger´s last blog ..Social Media are Powerful =-.

  • Yes, there are a lot of dumb people using Google. They also happen to call me in the evening to sell me life assurance when I’m having dinner and harrass me at the mall when I’m shopping with my kids. However they also use Yahoo, Ask and if G is playing up, even Bing.

    Nothing surprises me with the net anymore and unless there is a nuclear sized button saying ‘DO THIS’ then you can guarantee it will be missed.
    .-= mark harrison´s last blog ..Debt advice for intermediaries =-.

  • Yes, there are a lot of ‘not so tech savvy’ people out there. But dumb? Excuse me, that was a bit too rude!

    What is so intuitive to you might not be so to other people…Probably one of those guys can so readily change their car tyres by themselves something you might not be able to do unless you check out a Youtube tutorial! He wouldn’t call you dumb for that!
    .-= Anand Srinivasan´s last blog ..Wireless Internet Browsing Over Smartphones =-.

  • I had the same problem with… lightbox :). I should probabily write “click on the photo” :D.
    .-= Manole Silviu´s last blog ..De prin Mojo =-.

  • Dumb is harsh, but I would agree that people who are otherwise considerably intelligent will elect to become “dumb” about computers (whether consciously or otherwise.) There is absolutely no reason why someone who can take apart a vacuum cleaner and reassemble it, or figure out a long term financial projection using compounding interest rates without the aid of a calculator, could not figure out how to change their desktop wallpaper but it’s a very common scenario. There is probably a very good sociology paper to be written there, but I have witnessed this phenomenon countless times and the best I can figure is there is some kind of mental block whereas the problem solving skills that work perfectly fine for other things go entirely out the door when it needs to be applied to a computer. Once they get past that mental threshold they are off to the races and are setting up personal homepages, buying music online, loading it into MP3 players, watching TV online, etc…

    I really think relative intuitiveness is not the issue here, because standards used on websites are pretty well researched and on the whole fairly consistent. It is something much more psychological, perhaps intimidation that translates into a mental block.
    .-= Terry Howard´s last blog ..The Foot Book – Dr. Seuss’s Wacky Book of Opposites =-.

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