Do you notice when search features get added or taken away? Probably not, unless it’s a feature you absolutely love. But search engines like Google often change their formats, adding and taking away features, in order to refresh and revitalise the search experience. For example, one big decision Google made this year was to completely disable the Google discussion forum search filter.
Jon Wiley, Google’s Principle Designer of Google Search, recently filled people in on the reasons why Google chop and change search features, when he took part in a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) online thread.
“When you add a feature, no one complains about it outright; if they don’t love it they mostly just ignore it,” he explained, adding that when a feature is removed from Google, people notice: “even if just a small fraction of people miss a feature and an even smaller fraction says so, that can still be tens of thousands of people. It can seem like a tidal wave of opposition to the removal” he added.
So why not leave everything as it is? According to Wiley, this could lead to bloatware, and unwieldy features that don’t sit well with the ever developing smartphone and tablet technologies.
“There are many, many such features that you always have to make tough choices about,” said Wiley. “We’ve actually cut features that I love. This is one of the toughest but most important parts of designing products – deciding what to trim as you move forward. Sometimes you over trim – we work to measure the impact and aim to strike the right balance. Sometimes we get it wrong, so it is important that people speak up. We really do listen, and we prioritize according to what seems to satisfy the widest needs given our capabilities.”