Thursday, January 20, 2005

Facts about Google

Google - Some interesting facts from Alan Williamson:

  • The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn't know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. Infact it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.
  • Due to the sparseness of the homepage, in early user tests they noted people just sitting looking at the screen. After a minute of nothingness, the tester intervened and asked 'Whats up?' to which they replied "We are waiting for the rest of it". To solve that particular problem the Google Copyright message was inserted to act as a crude end of page marker.
  • The infamous "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.
  • Orkut is very popular in Brazil. Orkut was the brainchild of a very intelligent Google engineer who was pretty much given free reign to run with it, without having to go through the normal Google UI procedures, hence the reason it doesn't look or feel like a Google application. They are looking at improving Orkut to cope with the loads it places on the system.
  • Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet; for example Excite@Home users often get to see new features. They aren't told of this, just presented with the new UI and observed how they use it.
  • Google has the largest network of translators in the world
  • They use the 20% / 5% rules. If at least 20% of people use a feature, then it will be included. At least 5% of people need to use a particular search preference before it will make it into the 'Advanced Preferences'.
  • The name 'Google' was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for 'Googol'
  • Gmail was used internally for nearly 2years prior to launch to the public. They discovered there was approximately 6 types of email users, and Gmail has been designed to accommodate these 6.

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