Posted by: on May 30, 2012

Opinions

Google – The Equal Opportunity Search Engine
Google has always had the daunting task of finding information for everyone – from the technically gifted to the mediocre intelligent and even the clinically stupid. Consider Google, and other search engines, the Dewey Decimal System for the Internet.

Yet, have you ever paused to wonder who this marvel of algorithm-engineering is geared for? Perhaps surprisingly, I find the answer to be grandma and grandpa. Just take a look at the simplicity behind the Google design and how Google returns information to users.

A Baby Boomer Nation

The reason is simple, grandma and grandpa – the lot of them baby boomers – have the least know-how when it comes to using the Internet. However, according to a recent study by eMarketer, around 78.2% of Baby Boomers are currently online, and this percentage is expected to stay the same through 2015.

Google, in all of its infinite wisdom, knows that while these older boomers may not be the most technically savvy in the online world, that’s certainly no reason to cast their demographic aside.

Knowing that baby boomers are of a rapidly growing demographic in relation to Internet usage, Google aims to do right by them. If you go to the Google home page, for instance, you will see a search bar and a Google doodle, with a toolbar along the top of the window that allows a user to log in to his or her account. Pretty simple and straight forward.

But if you look at other search engines, like Yahoo!, you’ll find a search bar surrounded by a digital orgy of news, weather, entertainment, advertisements, stock tickers, dating tips and hell, probably a few cat videos thrown in the mix as well. While the technically savvy among us might find these a great added value, users who aren’t ready to let loose the floodgates of the Internet might find it a bit hard to swallow.

Simply put, the simplistic design of Google makes it easier on the new, less-technical user. In fact, with Google it’s really the opposite. The site is engineered in such a way that allows the primary function – Google Search – to always be prevalent, keeping the mountain of bells and whistles gently tucked away beneath the surface. Bing has clearly also taken notice of this too, providing much of the same design to its own default search homepage.

A Design I’ve Grown to Love

I’m really not surprised that the grandmas and grandpas venturing into the online world are going to have the hardest time using the Internet and finding what they want – and believe me, I want grandma to be able to find the recipe for my favorite meatloaf as much as the next guy – but the Internet was simply never tailored for her because it was and is being designed by a different, younger generation.

Google has taken notice of this and now distills and simplifies what the Internet actually is and presents it in a very clean and non-threatening package to users. While the Internet might be compiled of a gazillion pages, organized in quadrillions of websites, and associated with equally as many URLs all chock full of information, a new Internet user wouldn’t know it. Not with Google, the proverbial GPS of the Internet, at the helm.

Have an opinion of your own? Let me know below!