Search Engines Rule The Web

Dr. Jakob Nielson: Search Engines RuleOne of the original voices in the wilderness clamoring for simpler web pages, smaller or no images, and improved usability was Dr. Jakob Nielson. His book, "Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity" is the number-one best-selling book ever about user interfaces, with more than a quarter million copies in print in 22 languages.

Recently he discussed the latest report on web habits with the BBC News. In the story he makes clear what we've been trying to tell anyone who will listen: "Basically, search engines rule the web."

Initial Search Engine Usage Rises

According to the story, in 2004, when starting an Internet session, 60% of people conducted a search first and then used a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr. Nielsen, that percentage has risen to 75%. Let me try stating that just a little bit clearer: Today, the first thing 3 out of 4 people do when using the Internet is complete a search.

Dr. Nielson believes that people are becoming much less patient when they go online. Instead of lingering on websites, many users want to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave. According to Nielson: "Now, when people go online they know what they want and how to do it."


If you're not on the supermarket shelf, you won't sell any products. That's the metaphor we've been drilling home to people. The Internet is a supermarket, so if 75% find what they want in the supermarket by using a search, and if your company, product, or service doesn't show up on the first page of search results in the three major search engines, then your company, product, or service doesn't exist.

Dr. Nielson's perspective on what the web should look like.