Last September, Google introduced its Instant Search application. By providing “instant” results, users would save about 2-5 seconds per search, with a global user estimate of about 11 hours saved per second.
Of course, this was all smoke and mirrors.
What Google really did was transform the user experience to help them achieve their goal of getting users to spend more time on their site –away from competitors such as Facebook, AOL, and other search engines / content hubs. Now Yahoo and Bing have similar plans in the works.
Users spent more time doing searches, and put less thought into the process. Google even somewhat admitted this would happen in the same breath as touting the new application’s time saving advantages.
They created the optimal user experience –one that balances the goals of the website with that of the user. Kind of the same way that Ikea dazzles their visitors with creative show rooms, while requiring you to walk through the whole store to increase the chances of a purchase. Or how banking websites are good for a few general services, but don’t share information in the most user friendly manner.
Making the user experience easy for people to get from point A to point B is of the utmost importance. So is defining the experience in order to meet the goals of your website. It’s a precarious, high wire act where you have to balance everyone’s expectations, or risk falling off, quite literally and figuratively. The best know how to keep their heads up and walk the line focused towards the rewards, and sigh of relief, that wait on the other side.