The Big Slate Media team recently had the privilege of attending a lecture by Dr. Dan Russell, Google’s Über Tech Lead for Search Quality and User Happiness. Quite the title, right? One of Dr. Russell’s prime goals at the moment is to understand how Google users tick. He works at Google. He’s given a Ted Talk (below). Lifehacker had a chat with him about how he works. We didn’t want to miss out.
The lecture lasted roughly an hour. It scratched the surface of just how insanely in-depth Google’s search functions can be and the curiosities of search users. But there was something he mentioned earlier, a statistic that knocked our socks off. It blew our minds. But before we mention this ground-shattering statistic, we’d like to ask you a question.
You’re on any web page – reading a scientific article on gambling plants, a PDF for school, a relatable article, whatever – and you’re looking for a particular word. You’re pretty sure it’s on the page, you’ve just got to find it. So… What do you do?
Some of you are probably rolling your eyes and thinking, ‘DUH! Use the search function, you knucklehead!’ That’s what we were thinking until Dr. Russell said roughly NINE IN TEN people don’t know about the search function (CMD+F for Mac, CTRL+F for PC).
If you’re reading this – we sincerely hope you’re already familiar with the search function. But keep that number in mind. Look to your left. Look to your right. It’s 2017 and some of the wretched souls you just looked at might not know how to find a word or phrase on-page – the easy way. Needle in a haystack, some may say dejectedly, eyes spinning from speed-read-scrolling pages, phantom words flying behind the eyelids with the same effect as a Guitar Hero marathon. So much time spent searching. Wasted time. This is a digital-age tragedy.
Try to imagine the precious collective hours wasted by paid employees who don’t know about this shortcut. Dr. Russell said Google went through and made sure all of their employees were familiarized with the search function and other shortcuts. Guess what? They saved a ton of money afterward, and things became more efficient. So, maybe it’s not a bad idea to bring this up in conversation with a family member, friend or coworker. It’s clearly far larger of a problem than we would have anticipated. Dan said, “the tools you know change the way you think about information.” G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.” You get it.
Using the search function on a desktop is one thing. Using it on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets is another. Here’s a helpful article on the search function for mobile devices. It requires clicking the share button (not very intuitive…) and scrolling horizontally until you find the search button. Meh.
If you enjoy a challenge or just want to up your search game, check out A Google a Day. It’s fun and you might just learn something. That, and if your boss says anything you can tell them you’re actively building your credibility as a professional. That might work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
You can find a pretty thorough index of shortcuts here if you haven’t had your fix yet.
Stay tuned – we’ll be delivering more helpful tips and tricks in the future!