In a post that falls into the classic trap of thinking that search is the only way Yahoo can increase market share, my friend Joe recently posed an odd question:
Perhaps the choice is simply overwhelming people who are thus choosing to stick with Google's search interface (still simpler than Yahoo's). Malcolm Gladwell has noted that when presented with too many purchase options people actually may choose fewer items than if presented with a smaller number of options. Could Yahoo's problem be that they simply are doing too GOOD of a job ushering in Web 2.0?
I really doubt that's the case.
First of all, the complexity of our search interface (which likely means "the search results page") has little if anything to do with "Web 2.0" that I can figure. In fact, over the last year or so Google's search result pages have started to look a bit more like ours. They've become a bit more complex, busy, or some might even say cluttered.
Second of all, doing a good job of ushering in anything new on the web means doing it in a way that's meaningful and useful to people. If we're doing things that drive people away (or fail to attract them), I don't see how anyone can call that GOOD (in all CAPS no less). It's something we need to fix.
Finally, I don't think Gladwell's idea applies here. Joe is confusing "choice" with "understanding" or maybe "recognition." As I understand it, Gladwell was talking about equal choices: choosing among 5 models of coffee makers versus 50 of them. Search results pages on Google and Yahoo are a blend of different elements, not all of which are the same: advertisements, organic results, more advertisements, related search terms, etc.
Besides, if too much choice was really a problem, we'd expect to see a lot more people using "I'm feeling lucky" on Google, wouldn't we?
Posted by jzawodn at June 27, 2006 08:35 PM