For the past seven days I went on a strict Google diet, using Bing for all of my searches. With the insight that much of our reliance on Google Search comes from deeply ingrained learned behavior, I thought I could shift my perception of what search should look like by forcing myself to use only Bing for one week.
What I Liked
- Bing's homepage is stunning, and it feels great to be invited to search. However, I also found that I rarely visited the Bing.com domain as I generally used the search box in my browser (which I set to Bing).
- Bing encourages the user to think and consider, rather than click. As an extremely fast clicker, this was like taking a calming breath before taking an action.
- Rather than offering thumbnails, Bing displays previews when you hover over the right side of the link. However, I found that it was faster to click in and out of a page than it was to mouse over and read the pop-up box.
What Could Use Some Fixing
- Bing is a very literal "decision engine". Unlike Google, Bing doesn't yet recognize that you are searching for, say, a map or a phone number. Where Google will bring you straight to Google Maps, Microsoft requires a manual click to get to Live Maps. This was my biggest issue.
- Bing is not as easy to speed through. When I needed information fast, it didn't feel as easy to speed through as Google. This may be due to the color scheme.
- Bing is not iPhone easy. Yes, I cheated and used Google and Google Maps on my iPhone, but I wasn't going to start typing in a URL to search when there is a search box in the browser.
- I didn't see any integration between Bing and my Microsoft Desktop Search. Google does this, and it makes my life easier.
What I Learned About Myself
- I am addicted to habit.
- The choice of color in design is very important. When I search in a rush, the warm colors make the experience feel like it took longer.
- I felt comfortable typing Google into my browser as a URL (muscle memory?). I almost never typed in bing.com
- I am a very lazy searcher. I don't want to click more than once.
- I rarely search for discovery and I don't search for the experience of the search engine. I'm not sure that I search for decisions. I search to get to what I want or where I want to be. Search isn't about searching, it's about getting.
What Will I Do From Here?
I'm not sure. The first time I used Google this morning, it felt like a sigh of relief. It was familiar. But I also found myself amazed at how often I am clicking onto the next two results pages, and how dry Google Maps looks (though the search is more intuitive). I'm really not sure where I will land.
But what was most interesting to me, was what I learned about myself. I strongly encourage you all take to this journey. Try it out for a week. Give Bing some time. Seriously think about the product, and what this means to your web user experience. And please, share your findings.
What Does This Mean For Bing?
Bing is investing quite a bit in marketing this product. If I am any indication, their steepest battle is going to be changing user expectations and behavior.
Kudos to my colleague Jason Crawford for naming this post.