Craig_silverstein

Live notes from technology director Craig SilverStein’s talk at Google’s Searchology event. He was Google’s first employee:

“Comprehensiveness, relevance, speed and user experience were the important things, we decided at the start.

Comprehensiveness: We crawled the 25,000 most important pages on the Web [in 1998]. We tried to crawl more web pages

June 26 2000 – Giga Google, [a billion page index] we were very proud when we had this [logo] on our home page, we celebrated with a MacDonalds. Now it all seems very quaint.

Relevance and Speed – a slide on walking to the library for info – slow, talking to a friend – faster, asking a computer on an old Archie Search – faster still. We realized that if we did it fast enough, people would use [Google] search for everything. Fast enough is about half a second, maybe a third, it seems instantaneous.

We’d like to do better, the earth is big and we’re restricted by light beams to our data centres and back.

The reason we did our Web page the way we did [minimalist] was because we wanted to make it fast to load. We kept making it smaller.

User experience: In the early days we didn’t do enough testing, if something was broken we heard from our users. Now we do much more testing in-house."

10.15am Pacific time, Ben Gomes, software engineer, and Kerry Rodden, senior user experience researcher, are explaining the basics of Google Search today, such as page ranking, at its Searchology event.

Interesting eye-tracking animation – a pink dot showing where eyes move looking for the search-results answer to “tallest active player in NBA”. Heat maps then produced to show which parts of the page are looked at the most, it’s like an F-shape in the top left of the page, first two results are very important.

They show how they take a guess about showing whether images, weather, maps, news links, stock prices relevant to the query should appear at the top of the page.

A newer feature is query refinements that show at the bottom of the page – alternative queries at the bottom of the page that might be closer to what the user wants.

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