End User Experience
Google’s vision is to deliver relevant results across all data sources – the Internet, a user’s local computer, and the corporate network. In pursuing this goal, we maintain a maniacal focus on the end user experience. This core value was solidified during the late 90's when internet companies collectively filled their pages with as much information as possible while Google offered the same simple, clean interface you see today.
It all starts with relevant results. Unless a search engine consistently delivers relevant results to queries, users won’t use it. At Google, we focus the lion’s share of our efforts on delivering relevant results to any kind of search query. We devote more manpower to delivering relevant results than any other company. Thousands of engineers focused on search and information retrieval have access to billions of queries on Google.com each week to test quality improvements. Google’s enterprise team layers on a universal search quality team which leverages algorithms from Google.com, but also adds numerous algorithms fine-tuned for enterprise relevancy. Ultimately, our products are optimized to work best for all the unstructured and structured information within enterprises.
Two keys to Google’s relevancy algorithms are objectivity (insuring all users get the most accurate search results) and rigorous user testing of all changes. Read more about our commitment to relevant results.
Think about all the different things you do on Google.com – performing an image search, putting stock tickers into the Google search box, sending emails from Gmail and the list goes on. Now think back to the first time you used any of these products; did anyone explain to you how to use these tools? Chances are no, but you were still able to figure out how to use these products intuitively. The simplicity of Google.com – you just type in a few words, hit enter and back comes the information – inspires all of our product design at Google.
However, in the enterprise, employees don’t have the same choices as consumers – in most cases, employees can’t choose their email client or CRM system. That said, employees do have a choice – whether or not to use the systems provided. When employees refuse or are reluctant to use enterprise applications, productivity declines significantly.
At Google we strive to design products that are as easy to use and intuitive as Google.com. We think products (enterprise or consumer) should fit into a user’s mental model and frame of reference automatically. The Google Enterprise team benefits by working with products that have already been thoroughly tested (and successfully used) by millions of users.
At Google, we understand the need to provide personalized information, wherever the user is seeking it. That need drives the development of products such as iGoogle. Taking that same concept to the enterprise, the Google Search Appliance provides personalized search results. So, for instance, engineers can choose to receive code and design documents at the top of their result set, while results for the marketing department can favor marketing documents.
Additionally, the Google Search Appliance has the idea of 'alerts', which enable users to subscribe to particular topics of interest. For instance, if an employee is interested in a particular competitor, they can receive daily, weekly, or monthly alerts every time a colleague updates an existing document or posts a new document on that competitor.
We test everything at Google. While any company would prefer real-life data to hunches and guesses, Google is more focused than most (or any) on getting conclusive proof that a new feature or function improves the user experience. We release many of our products in beta on Google Labs to get this kind of feedback early in the process so that we can influence the design and iterate quickly.
The ability to test lots of products and features on hundreds of millions of users is enormously valuable. This test-bed of users (otherwise known as google.com) provides Google with an incredible advantage over enterprise-only search vendors. Bad ideas can be discarded quickly and great ideas can be implemented rapidly, because we have confidence and data to show that they’ll improve the user experience.
Very few people would disagree that Google is dizzyingly fast. Google consistently returns search results across many billions of web pages and documents in fractions of a second. While this is impressive, is there really a difference between results that come back in 0.05 seconds and results that take 0.25 seconds? Actually, the answer is yes. Any increase in the time it takes Google to return search results causes the number of search queries to fall. Even very small differences in results speed impact query volume.
Even though speed is so important, some enterprise applications take seconds or even minutes to return search results! Slow search results will cause user abandonment or extreme discontent. For better or worse, your employees see how fast search is on Google and they expect the same performance behind the firewall. Google’s Enterprise group follows lock-step behind the consumer applications insuring that all of our search products deliver lightning fast results.
One thing that we’ve found that excites users and increases query volume (in addition to speeding up search results) is adding more content to the search index. This one isn’t shocking – adding more content increases the chances that a user's search will deliver exactly what she’s looking for. In the enterprise, users access many different enterprise applications, and it is exceedingly rare for these information silos to be unified. Google is changing that, as we think users should have one search box that acts as the secure gateway to all enterprise information.
Google OneBox for Enterprise is a feature of our search appliances that connects directly to business applications – your phone book, CRM, ERP, financials system, business intelligence systems – and brings back this information directly in search results. So, searching for a colleague’s name could bring back her phone number and email address. Inputting a customer name in the search box would connect to your CRM system and provide the latest information on that customer’s status. Google OneBox for Enterprise provides secure, real-time access to any business application. Get more details about Google OneBox for Enterprise.
By using the Google Search Appliance to connect to all your enterprise systems, applications and data repositories, search becomes the central gateway to enterprise information – just like it is on the web. Desktop, intranet, corporate network, enterprise applications and the Internet can all be available from a Google search box. Talk about having information at your fingertips!
Find out more at one of our Google Search Appliance or Google Mini seminars.