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Internet

The Google Effect

By William Bakker | 04.24.06 | Comment?

Joshua Porter on the UIE blog writes about what he calls the Amazon effect. Whenever they test websites that sell stuff Amazon also sells, a user is inclined to just go to Amazon instead of using the site they’re called on to test.

I’ve seen the same effect during our usability testing. Sometimes, when we ask a user to look for a particular piece of tourism information on HelloBC.com, a user simply says “oh, let me just goto Google”, even though they are already on British Columbia’s official tourism website. We’ve been called that “the Google effect”.

In the late 90’s, the behaviour I observed was that users searched for a website they thought would contain the information they were looking for. These days, users search for the specific page on a website. They use more keywords, and more specific keywords in their search queries. They also often spend less time on a website trying to find the information if it’s not on the first page they land on. They’ll just go back to Google and try the next result.

So on HelloBC.com, we done a few thing to accommodate this behaviour. First, we’ve put a lot of effort against Search Engine Optimization. We’d like user to land on the page within our website that contains the information they’re looking for.

And second, we try to provide strong scent of information. So if a user isn’t on the exact page that contains the information, we like to present them with clear links to where the information is. A good example of this is our Sights, Activities and Events page.

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