Last weekend, I wanted to find out what time the Wimbledon men’s finals match began. TV coverage started around about 1pm but I was pretty sure that wasn’t the start time. So off I went to Internet search. And whilst I was at it, decided to compare Google and Bing.
Google search results for Wimbledon – Click image to view larger
Bing search results for Wimbledon – Click image to view larger
What’s interesting is that each is taking a very different approach to displaying the results.
Google seems to be trying to save you visiting a web site if a quick answer is what you are looking for. You get to see recent match results and the date/time for the next matches to take place. Yey – found what I was looking for. You also see a variety of different sources – news articles, location map as well as the official web site.
Bing displays no information about the current tournament in its results summaries. And appears to assume you might not find what you’re looking for at the first attempt, offering a list of related searches in a prominent position over on the right of the results. Bing manages to display more results than Google in a smaller space, but it seems to be at the expense of helping decide which result is most likely to be useful.
From a personal perspective, I find the ‘Related searches’ list distracting on the Bing results page. It pulls my eyes over to it instead of reading the main results area. Google puts a list of related search links at the end of the first page. This feels more logical – if you haven’t clicked anything on the first page, maybe the results need refining.
It’s a similar story when searching for other facts, such as weather:
Yes, the UK weather this summer really is that bad…
I find I still favour Google for searches. Quick facts can usually be found without needing to click further. Whether web sites like that outcome is another matter. But when it comes to applying these lessons for enterprise search designs, saving clicks can be a big productivity boost.
I haven’t found an example yet where Bing delivers demonstrably better search results, despite what Steve Ballmer says. Has anybody else? And of course the missing element to both is the conversation taking place in real-time. Google is starting to push it’s Google+ social network, if you’re signed in. But no Twitter, no Facebook, no chattering updates. They’re all taking place in the digital walled gardens.