I know many people think Jakob Neilsen is a bit of a Usability nut, but apparently I think he’s reached the zenith of outrageous conclusions. Apparently his study found that 24% of users in his sample when placed in front of a computer couldn’t conduct a search on Google.
As I’m writing this I was finding it hard to use his Useit.com site. Perhaps he should provide a top navigation anchored into the main sections on that page – just a bit of a usability tip there!
How difficult is it to perform a search on Google?
I’m not talking about the challenge of formulating a good query, interpreting the results, or revising your search strategy to reap better results. Those are all very complicated research skills, and few people excel at them.
I’m talking only about the very first step in searching the Web: Getting to your favorite search engine so that you can run a search there.
But it was this bit that made me chuckle the most:
I doubt that any Web designer would be incapable of running a Google search. So, the fact that 1/4 of users can’t do it is a striking demonstration that you can’t rely on your own experience if you want to reach a broader audience.
I spend my day explaining the benefits of blogging, exploring the long tail of the search distribution, removing barriers that prevent users from transacting and creating sticky content. Some of which I don’t expect my non internet-savvy clients to understand first or second time – that is fine.
But how the heck are we supposed to design and market websites when 1/4 of the internet-population are supposedly unable to find Google and conduct a search on it?
The thing I have trouble with is that nowhere did he say how large his sample was, where they were obtained from, their age and gender distribution, the length of internet experience.
To my mind this is just another “internet study” that should be thrown into the e-wastebin!