It’s always highly interesting to me to see what the big tech companies that have “made it” do to get where they are. Sometimes its surprising how the little changes make huge differences. Google is full of examples just like any other company:
One of the biggest leap in search usage came about when they introduced their much improved spell checker giving birth to the “Did you mean…” feature. This instantly doubled their traffic, but they had some interesting discussions on how best to place that information, as most people simply tuned that out. But they discovered the placement at the bottom of the results was the most effective area.
Marissa Meyer, Product Manager for Google
Another interesting presentation is about Amazon.com. Amazon is supposedly one of the best sites for usability out there. It’s in their financial interest to be easy to use, because when ecommerce was new, it needed to be friendly and predictable to its users to succeed. Amazon is a “new” way to buy things and breaking the ice with new Internet users was a tricky chore for them. Check out the pages about 1/2 way through about the site redesign options, pretty interesting usability research.
P.S. First picture post! This is me at The Gates last February.