Why you should never use Google Instant

google-instantGoogle Instant has been the talk of the town lately. (Incase if you live in a cave, this is what Google Instant is). And as usual there was tons of information shared all across the internet about what Google instant is, how much time it saves, how to use it and more fluff about it than we can even imagine.

You might call this as a rant but Google Instant as I understand it is the worst thing that can happen to your search experience.

Why am I taking the extreme opposite side to the whole conversation? No I am not a devil’s advocate and I like Google as you do. However this time there is a reason to it, and let me explain why.

The ultimate distraction machine

A couple of searches via Google instant and I realized that it’s an ultimate distraction machine. Earlier there was a small enhancement where related searches popup under the search box to help you select if it fits and search faster. This was good to have. If you like it, use the recommendation, else just ignore the drop down and concentrate on the search box.

Instant on the other hand seems to be pushed on you. While searching the most relevant phrase (Which is as per Google intelligence and can be completely different to what you are actually searching) the phrase appears as a grayed out text right in the box. Now whether you like it or not you are distracted and mostly you tend to read it.

Finally are those actual search results that keep popping, changing and dancing as per your phrase. You will not use most of them and all they do is simply distract!

2 seconds saved to waste resources

The biggest claim for Google instant is that it saves time while searching. Probably 2 to 5 seconds saved. But there is a flip side to it.

Instant uses your bandwidth to popup those unrelated results while you are typing. It uses Google’s server again and again to bring results. You waste money and electricity on the bandwidth which you don’t realize.

A bigger problem is that the same search page now fetches data 4 to 5 times more and what you actually checkout is the last result page. More pages served mean more server utilization and the unnecessary cooling required for the Google servers. The data center makes a dent on Global warming.

The myth of faster searching

Is instant really faster searching? If you logically see it’s just a short cut. Your bandwidth capacity has not changed and the time taken to fetch the results is still the same.

Add to this the distraction. Mind you it’s a BIG deal! We currently spend waste ample time switching between those tabs surfing the internet and finding cool things. Now you wanted some help for your thesis and thought to get it instant-ly. While typing your search the phrase matches another highly searched term related to Lady Gaga. Tell me what is interesting to surf? The thesis or Lady Gaga?

While Google promised to save you few seconds it gave you good enough push to waste next 2 hours searching something you never wanted! This is what I call the death of GTD

Just types ‘is’ and a space. The page is full of results with – Is Lady Gaga a man! Now this was not I required at the first shot.

This is search and not a solution

Now this one is deeper. Think about it for a moment. When you were searching what were you really doing. Were you trying to get the best page possible which resembles that search result and is highly optimized for search engines? Or were you trying to find solution for your goddam problem?

Instant works to provide you links to click on. Faster content. More content. More confusion. I would rather like to spend 2 seconds more, type the real phrase applying my brains and ask Google to take 2 more seconds and give me the right result that I want. A result that will guarantee I don’t need to re-search or rework on my query.

I don’t want a search result. I want a solution.

All I can finally conclude is that Google Instant is a type of illness every software engineer faces (Even I am one of them) and this illness is called feature creep. We add so many bells and whistles a.k.a features to our products that it starts hurting the basic reason why it was used.

The best possible thing I like about Instant is that it can be turned off. If you are okay to risk your 2 to 5 seconds, do follow my advice, try to switch off Google Instant and search. Decide for yourself whether Google Instant is really worth it?

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Steven H October 8, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Good to know! Now I don’t have to bother trying out Google Instant. Thanks for saving me the distraction.

Chanda Himanshu October 8, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I guess you should re-validate it Steven to check if it fits with you but yes in my views its a complete distraction. BTW checked your blog quite nice :)

Acting girl October 8, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Thanks for sharing. I do find Google Instant very annoying…

Aniket October 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Accept all the points. I think we are unnecessarily trying to complicate things way beyond what we should…

Bishnoi Ramesh October 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Good to hear totally different perspective / the other side of coin.

Chanda Himanshu October 8, 2010 at 6:03 pm

Thanks for the comment Ramesh. Yes the whole point was to highlight some points people never think about in the age of information overload.

Rahul Ramchandani October 10, 2010 at 1:17 pm

According to me Google Instant is a really innovative service.For those who don’t find it distracting some precious time is saved. And accordingly google says “If everyone uses Google Instant globally, we estimate this will save more than 3.5 billion seconds a day. That’s 11 hours saved every second.” And time saved is time earned. And environment impact- thats a concern. But I think google itself woudn’t want to increase its data energy costs and would have kept the impact to the least.Distraction..as for me it isn’t!

Rob Rammuny October 26, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Hey Himanshu glad to see you are voicing your opinion. I was getting sick of reading all the blogs that talked about how great Google instant was over and over. Good to see a fresh opinion.

keep it up!

Chanda Himanshu October 27, 2010 at 1:39 am

Thanks for the comment Rob. As you rightly said people r just going gaga about anything google does. While i m writing this yet another feature of showing a screen shot of the search result has been added. I think google is moving away from simplicity n minimalisn. More n more cluttered ui is gettin added in the name of user experience…

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