Usability errors in Google

By and large, all of Google’s services are astonishingly usable. That is, both people who are comfortable with computers, and those who are new to them, find the interface clean, fast, and understand how to use it. Recently I’ve become aware of two major flaws, which are both enlightening.

  • You can drag Google maps to scroll the map around. i.e. Press and hold the mouse down on the map, and then move the mouse around, and the map moves, as if you were sliding it about on a table. Everyone talked about this in blog posts when Google first came out, so all the techy people and Google watchers know that it is the main advance above older internet mapping services. But it isn’t obvious the first time you go to Google maps that you can do this. Solution: They need to add arrows on the edge of the map. Much as it will ruin the clean design, at the moment most users probably find it worse than multimap. I can’t think of a way to help people discover that they can drag the map, except putting some text below it, which hardly anyone will read.
  • What does Froogle mean? On the front page of Google, with a prominent “new!” flash next to it, is a button saying “Froogle”. It isn’t at all obvious that this is a price comparison service. It’s the most brilliant pun ever (the only other common word that rhymes with Google is “bugel”, apart from “frugal”). So when I first read about it on some technology website, I remembered it because of this cleverness. Solution: Rename it to Google Shopping, or Google Prices. Their traffic will immediately jump, as at the moment it is impossible to discover Google have a price comparison service.

OK, now can I have my cut of the millions of dollars in advertising revenue the above two suggestions are worth, please?

2 thoughts on “Usability errors in Google

  1. > OK, now can I have my cut of the millions of dollars in advertising revenue the above two
    > suggestions are worth, please?

    No. ;-)

    The millions are paid not for the good ieas, but for the effort of ceaselessly keeping the site optimised for whatever requirement may arise from month to month. It’s hard work, and that’s what people get paid for. Unfortunately. You know this, of course.

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