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Google ­sability Chief: Ideas Have to Be Discoverable

By New Scientist

November 29, 2011

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Google's Dan Russell recently spoke to New Scientist on improving searches.

"My job is to understand what people do when they search online, using three kinds of research," Russell says. "The first is classic analytics: reading logs of the search terms people use and what they then click on." He says other research methods include observing how people search online in their homes or on mobile devices, and tracking users' eye movements as they use new Google search interfaces.

Russell says that user research has led to a variety of revelations, including simple discoveries such as the fact that the first search result is clicked on twice as much as the second, to more complex aspects such as how users sometimes do not notice new components of a user interface. "We have found that there are some surprisingly basic search techniques that people just don't know about," he adds.

Google's Advanced Search page used to contain a lot of complex terminology, which led to many users leaving the page within five seconds of opening it, known as the bounce rate. Russell and his team moved the complex terminology to a different page, and Google Advanced Search's bounce rate was cut in half.

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