July 26, 2007
Google's user interface minimalism is admirable. But there's one part of their homepage UI, downloaded millions of times per day, that leaves me scratching my head:
Does anyone actually use the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button? I've been an avid Google user since 2000; I use it somewhere between dozens and hundreds of times per day. But I can count on one hand the number of times I've clicked on the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.
I understand this was a clever little joke in the early days of Google-- hey, look at us, we're a search engine that actually works! -- but is it really necessary to carry this clever little joke forward ten years and display it on the monitors of millions of web users every day? We get it already. Google is awesomely effective. That's why I use it so much. That's why Google is the start page for the internet, loading the Google homepage is virtually synonymous with internet access, and the verb "to Google" is at risk of becoming a genericized trademark. Google has won so decisively, so utterly, and so completely that the power they now wield over the internet actually scares me a little. Okay, it scares me a lot.
So can we get rid of the superfluous button now?
You might say it's only one more button, so where's the harm. I say giving a feature that's used less than one percent of the time parity with the "Search" button is a needless distraction for users. Furthermore, the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button is only available on the homepage-- it's not a part of any browser toolbar searches, and Google's intermediate search page results don't offer it, either. Why not standardize and stick with the simple, single "Search" button that everyone understands and expects, on every page? Why muddy the waters with a button that's so rarely useful, and on the homepage of all places? The thought necessary to mentally omit this needless button from the page may be miniscule-- but multiply that by the millions upon millions of users who are affected, and all of a sudden it starts to add up to real time. Don't make us think!
If you're an advanced computer user, you may be wondering why we bother with Search buttons at all when we have a perfectly good ENTER key on our keyboards. As shocking as this may be to us homo logicus, not everyone understands how that works. Sure, we think it's crazy to take our hand off the keyboard, where we were just typing our search query, move it all the way over to the mouse, then carefully move the mouse pointer to a button and left-click it... when we could just take that very same hand, already poised over the keyboard, and lazily tap the ENTER key.
But typical users don't really understand basic keyboard shortcuts. They love their mice, and their big, fat, honking "Search" buttons. That's why the current versions of Firefox and IE both have an integrated "go" button directly next to the address bar-- so users have something obvious to click once they've typed the URL into the address bar. Otherwise, I guess, they'd sit there wondering if their computer had frozen.
Personally, I always use the keyboard ENTER key to complete my searches, but I'd be open to a keyboard shortcut such as SHIFT+ENTER that invoked the Lucky function. I still can't imagine using it more than once a week at most-- and that's probably an optimistic estimate.
Strunk and White urged us to Omit Needless Words:
Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
I urge us to Omit Needless Buttons. I hope the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button isn't considered a sacred cow at Google. Removing it would be one small step for Google, but a giant collective improvement in the default search user interface for users around the world.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
They can't remove that button now, it's part of their branding, part of their identity. They would be no more likely to stop updating their logo with colorful playful holiday-appropriate images (the shock of all that wasted bandwidth as proxy servers everywhere have to recache it!) than they would to remove that button.
Needless to say, the connection that branding builds between the user and the service/company is important. This button and the feeling of playfulness that it reflects on google even moreso. The few extra bytes of page size and the small extra cognitive load is more than made up for the positive feelings it engenders in users.
I use the function (not the button) a lot during the day as my firefox will automatically open the 'feeling luck' page of a google search on any malformed urls or strings. I have never used the button itself, even when I know the page I am after is the first result.
I wish Safari had the Feeling Lucky functionality, but it doesn't. I even considered using opendns to get that result, but gave up with that.
I also agree that they can't remove it now.
I use it. Sort of as a bookmark. I rarely use bookmarks any more. I simply type in coding horror for example and hit I'm feeling lucky.
Google actually brought that up when they were user testing the UI a while back. (I can't remember where I read the story) But the crux of it was, the users actually LIKE having that button there, and rated the search interface lower when it wasn't there.
Similarly, they added the copyright notice at the:
Advertising Programs - Business Solutions - About Google
To the bottom of the page, because some people would look at the minimalist UI and wait. When asked why they were waiting, they said they were waiting for the rest of the page to load. Putting that "About/Copyright" line was the queue to these users that the page actually WAS all there.
I remember listening to a google staffer on a podcast a while ago, and the reason the "I feel lucky" button stays is not its click through rates, but the message it sends about google's corporate culture.
Apparently, users felt Google was more human by having something quirky like that on the front page. It doesn't have lots of people click on it, but it encouraged more people to click on the main "Google Search" button.
They discovered this by testing. Make no mistake, Google tests every UI option within an inch of its life. The button stays because the button tests well.
Actually, I use "I'm Feeling Lucky" all the time, except I never do it through Google.
For example, I almost always forget Markdown syntax for inline images. But since I know for sure that the first Google result for "markdown syntax" is John Grubber's site, I type that in Firefox's address bar and hit enter. Never fails.
But you're right, "I'm Feeling Lucky" is useless on Google's homepage.
Yes, everyone who reads this blog is computer literate and has been using the Internet for years, but many _new_ computer and Internet users are getting online everyday. The branding and "this actually works" message is further pushed on these users the first few times they use Google by the existence of that button. It might be worth revisiting those kinds of superfluous and rarely used user interface features once everyone is online.
"such as SHIFT+ENTER that invoked the Lucky function"
No need for that! In FF entering something in search box == search. Entering something that doesn't look like url into url box == feeling lucky (or something very similar - I'm not sure). When using personalized search (search history) it works better than bookmarks. You search for couple of things at first, but then just use url box when you've already found something before - you will be taken to correct page.
With obvious searches you don't have to go through google results page this way. I'm 100% sure where I will end up after entering "packages ubuntu" in url box (why should I remember correct link?). Same for "opengl reference", "asterisk bugs" (even if it's bugs.digium.com and has 'asterisk' listed there only couple of times), etc.
It's very, very, very useful after you get used to entering phrases into url box. Without search personalisation it may be less useful for developer and not a "normal user", but haven't checked that.
I kind of fail to understand how removing the button would be a "giant collective improvement in the default search user interface for users around the world."... I understand that that statement may be just a play of words and therefore slightly exaggerated sounding, but honestly speaking the button is not like something that is actively distracting the user experience.
A different point of view on the button is that it actually is *improving* the usability of the page because Google is so good that the first hit is often the "correct" hit and by pressing the I'm feeling lucky button you're saved waiting for the result page to load and navigating to the first link.
I can't seem to find it at the moment, but supposedly Google did a study that showed users the home page without it, and they didn't like it - because it wasn't familiar anymore. They couldn't even put their finger on it, but it felt "wrong" to them. At this point, I believe it's just psychological back compat.
And while Google admits that fewer than 1 percent of users actually use the button, I use it *all* the time. There are a set of searches where I'm confident the right answer will be the first hit (like a URL I forgot, but I know what it was about), so I type "fooTABTABENTER" and I'm there. It's actually far more useful to me than even the control+e search box, since the google interface for that still takes me to search results, and I want to get to the page, not search results that include the page.
YMMV - it's clear from some Google searches that others have hopped up on the soapbox as well to rake Google over the coals for a button they themselves happen not to use :)
I find it useful for when *i know* what the first result will show up but can't remember the URL.(or it's too lenghty to be worth to type it)
One example of this is when i want to look up for XHTML entities, i just put those two words and hit "i'm feeling lucky"
I never clicked on the "I'm feeling lucky" button, but I saw my mother looking for things on the web, and the father of my wife (don't know the term in English), and they both used that button.
And 90% of the times they found what they were looking for.
I guess this is a good way to apply the mantra "Less options is better"
I have tried clicking that button a few times, but if I'm not lucky, then I'm backing up and doing the search again.
Just for fun, I did C# as my search string and click it. Took me to Wikipedia, which I like to visit, but not when I'm looking for something related to C#. The MSDN site was second, so while it was fun to see the C# page at wikipedia, I'm wouldn't think to go there for C# info - and I wasn't surprised when I did go there.
It's a novel idea, but I don't see its utility, but I don't care whether they remove it either. Everything isn't always about utility.
Somewhat related to this, I guess, is the idea of having as simple an interface as possible for the user. I've used programs and, alas, written a few that had pretty heinous interfaces. There are TONS of websites with with confusing, ugly interfaces too.
I think Apple got it right with the iPod. It isn't perfect, but it is simple and provides an easy to use navigation mechanism - without sacrificing a bunch of utility. The perfect interface, I guess, is one where I immediately know what to do as a user. I love my iMac, but it bugs me that there are all these somewhat esoteric keyboard-click combinations and key combinations to do things. I can figure them out easily enough, but I suspect I'm not the "average" user. Back to google - I'm not sure my mom and dad would know immediately what "I'm Feeling Lucky" means on the button, and when presented with the one result, well... that might not be what they were looking for.
So it is novel, but not that useful.
sorry i do not agree with you.
google have only one home page UI, but they have to deal with all kinds of people -- different type of users, let's say basic or advanced.
I think google have realized it, so iGoogle is there.
I hope iGoogle will provide one more option such as a "I do not need I'm feeling luck' button" check box for you, jeff, though you never feel luck. this time you are little dull
I use Slickrun (Google it ;) ) as an entry point into Wikipedia and MSDN multiple times a day. I've found the most effective way of doing this is to actually fill the keywords into an 'I'm Feeling Lucky' search that includes 'site:en.wikipedia.org' or 'site:msdn2.microsoft.com/library'.
Also as a general go-to search, which also works if you enter most or all of the actual address. I rarely use the address bar in IE - Google really is my entry-point to the internet, even if I never see the Google page at all.
I agree with what a lot of people are saying. I rarely click on the button, but I have shortcuts that lead to the function. If I need to find out your website, I just press Alt+F2, then type "ggl: codinghorror" and I end up here. I don't even have to open a browser and load google as a homepage.
I love having it there, myself. It always seems to give me good results for my programming needs: looking up bits of SQL syntax or XHTML attributes or classes in the Javadocs of various projects. Opening my browser (with Google as the home page), typing "spring api simplejdbctemplate" or "hibernate manual" or whatnot, and hitting tab tab enter is a heck of a lot faster than navigating through bookmarks or search results using the mouse.
Maybe this is a keyboard vs. mouse thing. People who learn to do things using the mouse are used to everything being tortuous anyway, so they don't look to optimize things.
I still find it kind of sad most users can't figure out the Firefox keyword functionality. I know this guy who, every time he needs to lookup a word, navigates to a dictionary site and types it in which requires lots of mouse work and page loads. Meanwhile I just type alt-d "def blah" and get the results right out since I have def as a keyword for a dictionary site search.
For those of you that haven't seen this, it's sort of unrelated, not really politically correct, a tiny bit out-dated (by about 4 Google homepage re-designs), but at least a little amusing:
Type "French military victories" (no quotes) into the Google search box and hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.
I agree with you in that I never use it, and removing it would certainly create a more efficient UI for me. That said, I don't think it would be wise for Google to remove it. The Google landing page is inextricably part of the Google brand, an image we could probably sketch by heart if asked to do so. It also adds an element of friendliness to the page... one of the last remnants of Google's self-professed friendliness now that it, you know, owns everything.
Essentially, I'd prefer if it wasn't there, but I wouldn't remove it if I were the brians behind Google.
The biggest UI mistake is assuming usage behaviors without data to back it up. It's quite possible that "no one" uses the I'm-feeling-lucky button, but really you're not in a position to say that. I bet Google knows something that you're only pretending to know -- which is how it's users use the Google homepage.
Jeff, I think you're a little off-base with this comment:
"But typical users don't really understand basic keyboard shortcuts. They love their mice, and their big, fat, honking "Search" buttons. That's why the current versions of Firefox and IE both have an integrated "go" button directly next to the address bar-- so users have something obvious to click once they've typed the URL into the address bar. Otherwise, I guess, they'd sit there wondering if their computer had frozen."
Understanding basic keyboard shortcuts and them actually being effective and useful are 2 different things. I develop web applications full-time and I use the "go" button very often because it is "actually faster" than the ENTER key in many circumstances I encounter. Personally, I use both the mouse and the keyboard, and often at the same time... so why not make a UI that works for both mouse-centered users and keyboard-centered users?
Regarding the Go buttons that go with browser address bars, if you copy and paste a URL using just the mouse, you'd hate to have your hand leave the *mouse* to find the Enter key. So, it works both ways :)
Hi Jeff, Love your site, but you haven't done your research. Google has done testing on this, and found that people felt more connection to Google when there was a button with that kind of tone.
Here's one of 100 articles online that discusses it: http://www.iqcontent.com/blog/2006/07/google-user-experience-talk
The fact is, you're advocating changing something that is FAR from a "UI mistake" and you've totally overlooked the #1 reason why they include it -- branding -- which makes me wonder how qualified you are to talk about UI design at all.
I'm reminded of Jerry Seinfeld's but about the "XX billion served" signs at McDonald's...
"Look, we all get it. You've sold a lot of hamburgers. Why don't you just put up a sign that says, "McDonald's -- we're doing very well." I am tired of hearing about every damn one of them."
At this point, nobody is impressed or persuaded by how many billions McDonald's has served, but it's part of their identity.
I use it a lot as a Firefox search keyword when I know, from prior visits, that the first result of the search will be the website I'm looking for.
I define a bookmark that points to http://www.google.com/search?q=%sbtnI=I'm+Feeling+Lucky
I give it the keyword "gl" in the bookmark's properties window.
And then I type "gl coding horror" in the firefox URL text field.
I suggest you take a look at Blackle (http://blackle.com/). It is basically the Google search page, simplified, and with a black background in order to take a small step towards saving energy by saving Watts. Their goal, to save Megawatt-hours each year.
Interested? Check out their about page http://blackle.com/about/
I sadly use the button all the time.
I think it has to do with the fact that instead of remembering URLs these days, I just remember the google keywords that got me to the page. My google history is horrendous, #1 search is "archlinux"... because typing out "archlinux.org" would be a bitch.
Hmmm... Just greasemonkey it away, non?
As has been pointed out many times already I skip the step of even going to Google, using the Google search extension in FF when I want to see the full results and when I want the first result, simply typing it into the address bar and hitting the magic ENTER key.
Also, it is true that I personally never click any variant of the "GO" button, but I see my parents doing it constantly. They're much more comfortable with a mouse than a keyboard, whereas I'd much rather do more with the keyboard.
I think that this button is like pub.
I click on ads once a year and I believe that everyone is like me.
If everyone were really like me then no one would pay to put their names and logos on web sites.
Some ads are there only for visibility. There is somebody somewhere who bought a car from Ford, GM, Honda... After clicking on their ads ? I guess that nobody did.
I'm like you, I use this button only once a decade...
The reason why these bytes are there on the main page, it's, maybe because that's not everyone are like us.
I use it constantly, every day (though indirectly), as a number of Firefox bookmark keywords.
Quotes an article from WashingtonPost,
Google executives have long known that almost no one uses [the button].
"If we took it away, there would be mass protests worldwide," said Marissa Mayer, vice president for search products and user experience. "It's part of our heritage. It's part of what users really like about us."
Read the rest of the article here.
Geoff is right, Google has tested the crap out of their UI to the point where even the copyright notice was tested in because it gave users a feeling that the page had loaded.
Trust me, you may think it is clutter, but it is there for a utterly dogged and tested reason.
From the Washington Post article Haochi quoted:
[Marissa] Mayer said the button is used in far fewer than 1 percent of Google searches. When company testers have asked users if they know what it does, many say no, executives recount. When told the button will help them speed past the usual list of search results, they say they're still not interested.
From the same article:
Google had been adding more text to the page, promoting company jobs, advertising and other services until the number of words had reached the mid-50s. "Users really began squawking at us," she recounted. Now, she said, "we're trying to keep the number of words down." As of yesterday, the home page contained 33.
So we're talking about a company that agonizes over the number of individual words on its home page, yet allows a button with three words that-- according to Google itself-- "far fewer than 1 percent" of users actually *use* to hog what is the Boardwalk and Park Place of internet real estate?
I stand by my original point: the "I'm feeling Lucky" button was arguably fun/whimsical/useful in 2001 when people were still new to Google, but it's completely *irrelevant* in 2007 now that they rule the internet.
But why does it bother you so much? It is not a major design flaw now is it???
The Firefox toolbar actually has an IFL button, which I learned the hard way after I created my own custom search engine extension using this website: http://keijisaito.info/ready2search/e/?sna=I'm+Feeling+Luckyprf=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fsearch%3Fhl%3Den%26amp%3Bq%3Dsuf=%26amp%3BbtnG%3DGoogle%2BSearch%26amp%3BbtnIdes=Search+using+Google's+I'm+Feeling+Lucky+methodin=utfou=onomod=pn
I too was discussing the issues very recently with colleagues and I was actually surprised to find the IFL button still there on Google's home page. After all, it's absent from most of their other search/results pages, and it _has_ to cost Google money in terms of Ad revenue.
But then I started using it. It's wonderful! It saves me a click through the 1st search result 90% of the time. I use it mainly from FF's search toolbar and when I suspect my keyword won't generate a 100% 1st hit, I just switch momentarily to the regular search. That, however, hardly happens any more. Even when Google's #1 result isn't _exactly_ the page I was looking for (again, this rarely happens any more), it's usually very relevant and a good substitute.
For long Google users have been using the search engine as a "jump to" box, not really as a "find me everything that matches ___". That explains why so many of the search queries submitted to Google are actually URLs, or fragments thereof (this, according to Google).
I have to ask: did you actually try it? Did you try working with IFL as your default search for a day? You'd be pleasantly surprised.
-- A recent convert
While I'm not bothered by the button like Jeff, I don't buy the argument that the button should stay because of branding or that it creates an image of the company as "whimsical". At least not now after all these years.
I would think the Google logo does a good enough job of that. There are other ways to be whimsical.
I use I'm Feeling Lucky too, but not by using the button. More and more I find that I know what I want to see but I don't remember the URL, but I know typing in a couple of specific keywords will take me there automatically. So I'm not even using the Google homepage directly, but I know Firefox's automatic Google search will use the IFL command to take me to the right place.
The Firefox location bar is not actually "I'm Feeling Lucky".
MCP: "I've gotten 2415 times smarter since then."
Whatever search method it is that's invoked via typing a non-url in the Firefox location bar, it actually behaves like this:
1) If #1 for this term is had and shoulders above the rest, redirect to #1.
2) If there's less difference between #1 and the others, show search results.
Try it with "coding horror" and then "llama", for example.
You don't have to *feel* lucky when they have the stats to *know* just how lucky you're lucky to be. It's shocking how perfect it is.
Dude, they know more about successful design than you... leave them alone.
Whatever search method it is that's invoked via typing a non-url in the Firefox location bar
This is an interesting point; I never use the address bar this way, but I see what you mean.
It looks to me like firefox is judging whether or not the term you typed in the address bar matches a significant part of the "top three" URLs that come back from the search results. It's certainly a nice feature.
I use the 'lucky' button all the time. I've learned keywords that will take me to my favorite web sites from any computer. For example, type 'coding horror' into google and hit the 'I feel lucky' button.
No lists to maintain, no urls to remember. Just a quick and easy way to get to your favorite site.
The 'I Feel Lucky' button is one of the most brilliant UI devices ever to spring from the mind of man.
If you are on a mobile/small device without keyboard buttons are very useful...
Speaking of awesome power over the Internet, it's amazing how many times this magic button goes to Wikipedia.
they had a research that when the feeling lucky button is removed the number of searches (through search button) dropped.
I use searchninja.net for web search for two reasons:
1) Less cluttered UI than google
2) Cooler domain name :)
How can anybody take what you say seriously, anyway? You still use Internet Explorer.
When my parents want to visit a website and they have the address it goes like this:
1) Open up "the internet" (that's IE with Google as homepage);
2) Type in www.example.org in the search box;
3) Click I'm feeling lucky;
4) Pray that this works. If not, bitch at the site.
When I wanted to show them the site of my new startup we were not indexed in Google yet (we were online for less then 24 hours ;)) so this method didn't work. And I've seen it before, sometimes it's the *second* result or something.
My mum just doesn't want to hear anything about this thing called an "address bar".
Anyway, guess we better leave it in there, because something tells me my parents are not the only ones...
how could Apple get away with completely omitting a "go" button in Safari .. there is no "search" button next to Safari's Google search field either.
Another interesting point; Safari for Mac/Windows appears to lack either a "Go" button, for the address bar, or a "Search" button, for the search box.
Quite odd for a platform that is so mouse-centric..
Do not use the blackie site, a copy of the Google home page but with a black background, it only saves power if you are using a CRT display. It does not save power if you are using a flat screen display, and if you still using a CRT display and want to save power get a flat screen they save huge amounts vs CRTs.
Using that site does help the owner since they get some ad revenue.
i use google for, perhaps, 6 years, and i have NEVER used the i feel lucky thing.
i actually didnt even know what was it for until like 6 months ago.
I"m usually not one to leave comments, but this blog post is an exercise in futility... Google has a very minimalist GUI. One more button isn't what's going to confuse a searcher. Although as people suggested both IE and FF have an auto search when you type a non ip in the address bar, that isn't the point.
My point is - you are quite an interesting blogger...Don't waste your time on being picky, write about something bigger and more interesting than a button on a site...
Wow, this is taking the internet nazi psychology to new heights. How bored does one have to be to write an entry like this?
I would really like a shortcut to access the I'm Feeling Lucky Function; I never press the I'm feeling lucky button, but more than 50% of my queries are queries for which I only click on the first result (like for example "Steve Jobs wikipedia").
I use it all the time; I have a search shortcut in Opera; when I type "l codinghorror" it searches for "codinghorror" with Google's Feeling Lucky. So it's basically the quickest way for me to go to a page I know the tile of, but not the URL. You won't believe how often I search for "l wikipedia [subject]".
So OK, I don't use the button, but I DO use the function :)
As other already mentioned I do not use the function directly but through my browser konqueror. There ggl is the shortcut for "I'm feeling lucky". For example I use daily "ggl: mensa bonn".
"So it's basically the quickest way for me to go to a page I know the tile of, but not the URL."
I second that.
it's totally useful
wow. one line of code will REALLY take a longer time to load. and it's i n the way SO MUCH! I think I'll faint... they have made a TERRIBLE FLAW!
No, really, I use it, but only when I know what the first result is, like "putty" brings you to the PuTTY (windows telnet client) homepage. however I use it from the google search bar in firefox (the real one, not the one that FF provides automatically).
"They can't remove that button now, it's part of their branding, part of their identity."
How can it be part of their identity when no one uses it?
I've never used the lucky button, nor do I know anyone who does. Though, I've actually been asked "Which one do I press?" before.
Jeff, the usability experts at Google have found out that they need it there, even if almost nobody uses it. In fact, if nobody at all used it, the button would *still* be there. It's part of the corporate identity. It was in 2001, it still is now, and it will be for the next young people who use Google for the first time.
You seem to keep repeating how minor its uses are and how it's a waste of space - why don't you trust the people at Google? They know how this stuff works.
As for the person who suggested Blackle - that thing doesn't save power except on old CRT monitors. It won't save power for anybody reading Coding Horror - I hope!
The "I'm feeling lucky" button exists solely so that Google can sell risqu branded clothing. I'm sure they make billions on this. :)
I'm going to admit to being a moron.
I've pressed the Lucky button and was confused by it. I hadn't typed any text into the search box so it did nothing. My mistake was to assume that this button would return a completely random page. I didn't even think that it would require some search text.
Now I'm going to extend the view of how stupid I am.
So here I was with the Lucky button doing nothing. It didn't work the first time, nor did it ever work in the dozen times I then clicked on it. I was retarded enough to keep clicking on something that did nothing - or at least didn't work how I expected.
I've never successfully used the Lucky button because I'm unlucky enough to lack a brain.
Ya, I'm not sure I can follow Jeff's logic completely, but I will throw in my $0.02 and say that I've never used the button and have often scratched my head over it.
Hey, I just thought of another feature.
Since many people use IFL to quick-jump to certain web pages based on keywords, there should be a way of finding out the shortest (easiest) keywords that'll take you there. IOW I wish I could ask google: "what's the shortest/easiest thing to type in to get to ___ using IFL".
I use it all the time, and if they take it away, I will be pissed. Removing it will mean an extra page load for those of us who use it -- which is not an improvement. Please cease this crusade to degrade my user experience!
honestly, isn't there a little room for irreverence on the web? Stuff like that says to me that google still has a sense of humor despite it's size.
Little things like that and google's picture tributes to special days/people make me like them just as readily as speedy and accurate results do.
Hi Jeff -
Though it was touched on briefly, entering something that isn't a URL into the Firefox address bar will by default use the Google "lucky" function (though also as mentioned, it's not really needed on the homepage).
It's also worth noting that SHIFT+ENTER probably isn't a good idea, as both SHIFT+ENTER and CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER are used by Firefox (for adding .net and .org, respectively, in the manner of CTRL+ENTER is used to add .com, like in IE).
But to the point, could it be done without? Absolutely. :)
I use it all the time. I want to check news bbc. Jut type it in and tab twice and hit enter. The front page of the BBC news site is there.
Ditto any site that you know is going to be first in their results.
Useful, saves playing around with Favorites and typing in address bars.
Believe it or not, but there are still people out there who do not know what 'Google' is and are just learning the ropes of the online world. So while this feature, to us, may be old and annoying to many other of the hermits out there, it defines Google as Google.
It's a part of the Google identity. And besides, it's not useless as many people have pointed out. If I'm certain about the search term, I always go for it. Besides, it gives me a pleasant kick to see the exact page I want pop up immediately.
And as for the keyboard utility statement, tab+tab+enter will do the trick without resorting to the apparently offensive mouse.
Google's always stood behind their youthful "do-no-evil" image as opposed to other heavyweight corportations. So even though they admittedly rule the Web, it doesn't mean they have to give up supposedly frivolous features like decorating logos on holidays or the "Lucky" button (which is featured on the toolbar, by the way).
A little fun isn't that bad you know :)
All seriousness aside, The "I'm Feeling Lucky" button has its risks.
The number one cause of death on the Internet is typing "Chuck Norris" in Google search and clicking "I'm Feeling Lucky".
Apologies for providing the lame joke. I agree the IFL button is likely not used much, but certainly part of the Google identity. Just as they edit the Google logo at times with changing seasons etc. I've always expected it to be there without being particularly tempted to use it.
Interestingly, it's perhaps the only way to use Google without coming across any AdWords. It's a great user for power users I think. You could argue only 1% of Office users use VBA, but if that 1% is significant, then it's important not to lose that 1%. For Google that 1% probably represents millions of users.
What a worthless argument? I am sure if someone feel the need for the "Search" button, they will click "I'm feeling lucky" button as well. I have been using google for 7-8 years and I don't think I've actually clicked "Search" button. Most of the times the "Enter" key does the work for me.
Once I was looking for an online listing of UNIX man pages. True story. I typed in "man page" into Google, and I pressed "I'm Feeling Lucky".
That was the last time I pressed the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.
I use the I'm feeling lucky button all the time. I would imagine it would also be useful for people who like to type actual URLs in the search box, and then click the I'm feeling lucky button to get to the page rather than the search results, (saves a click).
Jeff, sometimes you get going on the most trivial stuff... come on man, dig deeper!
"Regarding the Go buttons that go with browser address bars, if you copy and paste a URL using just the mouse, you'd hate to have your hand leave the *mouse* to find the Enter key. So, it works both ways :)"
The people at Opera realized this was a problem and added a second paste function to the right-click menu for the address and search bars. It's named Paste and Go, and is also mapped to Ctrl+B on the keyboard for those keyboardists who want to paste and go in one less keystroke.
I use this button for one simple reason : not to have to type in the address bar.
say I want to go on the website of a very famous brand.
I open firefox. Google shows up. focus on the search input.
I know the brand's site is going to be the first result.
Why would I bother take my mouse or shift-tab to the address bar when I can simply type the name straight away, shift, shift, enter and I'm on the site I wanted to go to ?
blazing fast. try it someday ;)
I wouldn't cry if they slashed this button but I'd surely think of it as a feature downgrade.
Such a brilliant idea...
But I'm using it, genious. It's gonna stay there.
huh. tab tab enter I meant. --;
only when it displays you see the errors.
I have evloved byound even loading google for my searchs. Opera has the loverly functionality built in that lets you search what you want for the in the broser.
And you customise it to, so for a normal google serch i type "g super coollers" or if i want to get sometying of ebay "e crap that i really dont want" etc. etc.
I find it is so awsome! And your point about use 'logicalists' just hitting enter, I have removed the lame 'go!' bottun, as well as most other things i can do with just the keyboard - browse so much faster then when I started on this wonder.
You know what Google should do? On April 1st, change the "I feel lucky" button to be just a JPEG and see how long it takes someone to notice. (Yes, I know that different users see the button rendered in different ways, but it would still be cool.)
BTW, all this talk of using the IFL button made me try it out. It's actually pretty neat when you are not 100% sure whether the site you're looking for is *.com, *.org, or *.net, or you're not 100% sure of the domain name. I think I might actually start using it.
Another interesting point; Safari for Mac/Windows appears to lack either a "Go" button, for the address bar, or a "Search" button, for the search box.
I guess the natural thing to to signal the end of text entry is to hit return, going back to typewriter days. URLs dragged to the address bar load immediately, while other text just springs back. Safari's address bar does the right thing whether one is using the keyboard or mouse: it doesn't encourage or even allow the user to switch from one to the other.
Quite odd for a platform that is so mouse-centric.
Another common assumption, but is this a fair description?
Mac OS has had its own special command key since 1984 (the clover or apple key, distinct from the control key which is used to send escape-key sequences, e.g. into a terminal application).
It has a large set of global keyboard shortcuts standardized in Apple's Human Interface Guidelines, exposed to users through menu text in every application, and centrally editable and overridable in System Prefs. Late in the twentieth century, OS X added global shortcuts for application and window management, search and spelling, and Emacs key bindings for text entry (coming from NextStep, I think).
Some references (I haven't found a single comprehensive one):
Oh, and OS X Tiger has "full keyboard access", which all power users should switch on. It lets one visually tab through pretty much any button, menu, window pane, other control in the UI.
I think it's dangerous whenever somebody decides something is useless based on the fact that neither they nor their immediate circle uses something.
I personally don't use that button, but I do know a lot of people who just want a single result, and feel that clicking the button gives them what they need much faster. In fact, I know people who ONLY use the "I'm feeling lucky" option.
The computer savvy users who need google hundreds of times a day know exactly what they're going for, and I'm sure the majority of us use the firefox quick search term or have an iGoogle page, so we're not even affected by the button.
I'm sure there are massive amounts of people who still think the internet is a cool and amazing world and are happily using the "I'm feeling lucky" feature who would be very upset if it were removed.
Jeff. Once again your POV is from a computer literate person. You must think, what would a old person do when confronted with Google for the first time. Actually not even an old person, my girlfriend doesn't use the address bar at all. She will type the full url in the google search box "www.somebank.com" and then search. Once the results come back she clicks on the link that she feels is the one she wanted. To me this is a complete waste of time, but for her, in the event that she spells is slightly wrong, google usually has the correct URL waiting in the wings.
Just because you use it, doesn't mean that it isn't used.
They can't get rid of it now. It's part of their mojo, baby!
Based on what you write, deleting the 'lucky' button would piss off one percent of a billion people. Would you choose to do that in a UI you designed?
But typical users don't really understand basic keyboard shortcuts. They love their mice, and their big, fat, honking "Search" buttons.
I would have made the same assumption. But if it were true, then how could Apple get away with completely omitting a search button in Safari, the default Mac web browser for nearly four years?
Woops, I meant omitting a "go" button, but there is no "search" button next to Safari's Google search field either.
* The purpose of the "I'm Feeling lucky" button as I see it, is to entirely skip the search results page, ie shortening the time it takes to navigate to the site you were originally interested in.
Sites that are well established and have reached the top of the google ranking can then be reached by simply typing in specific key-words, instead of having to remember whether the site was a .com .net or .info etc, or if there are many possible permutations to site's address.
* In this way, a user doen't have to think about whether the site is NYTimes.com newyorktimes.com thetimes.net or whatever the case may be... (Even though probably each of these addresses will get them there).
* The button works just like the firefox address bar auto-search in that you just hit enter after entering a search term.
* Perhaps in the future, when the google search evolves enough, it will have no buttons altogether, and will be able to discern whether item being searched for is popular enough to navigate to directly, skipping the search results page.
This is kind of a funny rant. I think it makes you look a little foolish as even I, a non-techie, knew that google left that button there for a reason. I think a little research would have gone a long way to stop you from making a fool of yourself. I would have corrected you and told you the problem with your reasoning but I see it has already been done in numerous postings.
"Quite odd for a platform that is so mouse-centric.."
That must be a typo. I think you meant.
"Quite spectacular for a platform that is so keyboard-friendly.."
So I fixed it for you. :)
I actually recommend that button to people sometimes. Often I see people so accustomed to using search engines, that they will type "cnn" or "espn" into google, instead of putting the url in the address bar. I tell them in that case to use the "I feel lucky" button to speed up their annoying habbit. Although it's more for my benefit than theirs.
Actually, in this way, it's faster than typing the full URL into the address bar! I just can't trick my own brain to think of it that way.
The go-button is actually useful if you have no keyboard. I always thought the same as you of that button. But when i purchased a tablet PC, i saw why it exists. On Windows the OnScreenKeyboard* automatically hides after pasting. That when you tip with your pen on that button.
I was amazed how the use of GUIs change if you use a tablet pc. Ever wondered why the textbox popupmenus include an "delete"-entry?
* The Vista OSK contains three different input modes. Two of them are not keyboards at all, but handwriting recognition. In these two modes it automatically hides.
Does anyone remember when Alta Vista was the number one search engine out there? It had really powerful search features like the ability to include and exclude and to look for whole phrases when other search engines were just simple word searchers with little to no control over your search terms.
Does anyone know why they lost their place? I can't be certain but I have a theory. They refused to adapt and change.
I have a very selfish reason for believing this. You see at the time their search engine was case sensitive so I very politely informed them that it would be more effective if they changed it so it wasn't case sensitive. I received a terse response informing me that this is how it was done, Unix systems did it that way, and that was the correct way to do it. I haven't used Alta Vista since.
On the other hand Google adapts on a daily basis. But I do agree that, to me, the "I'm Lucky" button is kinda useless but then I use Google for work, not just play. That being said I guess I'm willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt and assume it does get used so they keep it.
Google.com should be one big input text, with no button, and people would just enter text and press enter :)
Nah, honestly, the "I feel lucky" button is nothing more than Google's own "luck amulet" or "magnet amulet", call it as you wish. I believe that just having the world "luck" on a page can incur something in the head of most people visiting the Google page, specially if they found what they were looking for.
They associate the word "luck" with "search", and google stays in their mind because it's the only logo design viewable on the page. Simple as that. I personnaly really acknowledge Google is a powerful search engine, but there is others which provide similar results, yet they are not as crowded, because Google always knew how to make people come back.