I was listening to a talk by a Google employee a couple of years ago and he (she? I can’t really remember anymore) was telling a story about something very odd that happened during one of Google’s rounds of user testing.
Basically for this user testing they put people in a room by themselves and set them up in front of a computer connected to the internet. The idea was that the person was supposed to use Google in whatever way they wanted so that the Google employees could get a better understanding of how people use the site.
So they had set up this one man and then they went to the other room to observe what he did. He typed in www.google.com into the browser and sat there. And… pretty much just kept sitting there.
Time ticked by and he just sat there and sat there without typing anything into the search box or clicking a link. The Google employees were puzzled and thought maybe something was wrong.
They went back into the room and asked him if everything was all right and he said yes. At that point they were doubly puzzled because of his response so they basically said ‘Sooo, whatcha doing then?’ and he said:
‘Well, I’m waiting for the page to load.’
I’m guessing that most of us are familiar with the trademark simplicity of Google’s home page, but apparently this guy had never seen anything like it. He thought that there had to be more to the page than a logo and the search box so he was patiently waiting for the rest of the website to show up.
Just goes to show that you never really know how someone will react to something until you actually have them try it. In this man’s life experience web pages just weren’t that simple (he must have been using Yahoo a lot lol).
If no one had come back into the room who knows how long he would have sat there just waiting for the page to load, not to mention how he must have been thinking ‘This is the slowest loading page in history!’ the whole time.