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Google’s founders didn’t know html!

Last night I went to the BayCHI lecture at PARC given by Marissa Mayer (Product Manager for Google). A very well attended (standing room only session), Marissa took us through a presentation geared around the user experience at Google and the efforts/lengths they go to.

Some interesting facts came out:

1) The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn't know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. Infact it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.

2) Due to the sparseness of the homepage, in early user tests they noted people just sitting looking at the screen. After a minute of nothingness, the tester intervened and asked 'Whats up?' to which they replied "We are waiting for the rest of it". To solve that particular problem the Google Copyright message was inserted to act as a crude end of page marker.

3) One of the biggest leap in search usage came about when they introduced their much improved spell checker giving birth to the "Did you mean..." feature. This instantly doubled their traffic, but they had some interesting discussions on how best to place that information, as most people simply tuned that out. But they discovered the placement at the bottom of the results was the most effective area.

4) The infamous "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.

5) Orkut is very popular in Brazil. Orkut was the brainchild of a very intelligent Google engineer who was pretty much given free reign to run with it, without having to go through the normal Google UI procedures, hence the reason it doesn't look or feel like a Google application. They are looking at improving Orkut to cope with the loads it places on the system.

6) Google makes changes small-and-often. They will sometimes trial a particular feature with a set of users from a given network subnet; for example Excite@Home users often get to see new features. They aren't told of this, just presented with the new UI and observed how they use it.

7) Google has the largest network of translators in the world

Cool They use the 20% / 5% rules. If at least 20% of people use a feature, then it will be included. At least 5% of people need to use a particular search preference before it will make it into the 'Advanced Preferences'.

9) They have found in user testing, that a small number of people are very typical of the larger user base. They run labs continually and always monitoring how people use a page of results.

10) The name 'Google' was an accident. A spelling mistake made by the original founders who thought they were going for 'Googol'

11) Gmail was used internally for nearly 2years prior to launch to the public. They discovered there was approximately 6 types of email users, and Gmail has been designed to accommodate these 6.

12) They listen to feedback actively. Emailing Google isn't emailing a blackhole.

13) Employees are encouraged to use 20% of their time working on their own projects. Google News, Orkut are both examples of projects that grew from this working model.

14) This wasn't a technical talk so no information regarding any infrastructure was presented however they did note that they have a mantra of aiming to give back each page with in 500ms, rendered.

15) Quote: Give Users What They Want When They Want It

16) Quote: Integrate Sensibly

All in all, a very interesting evening and I thank my colleague Mary Weeks for inviting me to come along and attend. Much appreciated.

Source : here[/url]
There is some cool facts there that I didn't know about. Cool! Cool
I don't believe you. The people who made google were teenagers and they knew php. How else would google start? It couldn't just one day appear.
This is interesting... Never knew all this though i have use gmail for some time.
maybe they find html too easy for them.

but nvm. now they are rich.

add this to the list. they have a library of books on html.
The people who made google were teenagers and they knew php.

Actually, Google is written in Python (and most, if not all, of their scripts are also in Python).
so weird that the founders of the best search engiene don't know HTML...
Ha, interesting. Thanks for the article
This was very intersting . it is hard to believe you
very interesting. is the source reliable? cant believe makers of google dun know html
OMG... how did that happen?... lolzz... wattaahhh... smart..
wow!!interesting facts ....
Really?! Some cools facts there.
'I am googoling.' LOL I cant imagine saying that :D.

Very amusing article :D - thanks.

I don't believe half these "facts" for some reason... Oh, well.
If you have good idea and head with brains you can do something from nothing Smile
really cool facts

but do tell how it came into being

and the cleanner interface imparts pretty good speed

thanks for ur facts
jongoldsz wrote:
I don't believe you. The people who made google were teenagers and they knew php. How else would google start? It couldn't just one day appear.

You are very wrong. Google was founded by by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were graduate students from Stanford University.

Page and Brin had been working together on a search engine they called "BackRub" since early 1996, but with the encouragement of Yahoo! co-founder David Filo, they decided to start a company in 1998 and went looking for investors to back them. Google, Inc. was established on September 7, 1998. The founders hired Craig Silverstein - who was later to become Director of Technology - as their first employee, and started the business in a friend's garage.

I think everything that he posted is true, and believable. Some very interesting stuff. Thanks for the facts Very Happy

Edit: Here is some great google history. Ver nice, check it out!

GiLaD wrote:
so weird that the founders of the best search engiene don't know HTML...
How's that?
that is really quite surprising! i never expected that many interesting facts about the world's most popular search engine! thanks for telling us, i will have to pass these on Smile
Wow thats interesting.

I like the bits about not knowing HTML and also about the spelling mistake. Googol or whatever just doesnt fit, does it? Its 'Google' and always will be Google.

I like Google because it IS easy. I like the blank homepage, its more appealing. And yes, Google is much nicer and you will get a response via email, usually.

And no, i have never used the 'I feel lucky' option at all but it would look a lil bit silly if it wasnt there i think. And its just gotta be there. Another great Google feature.
That's very interesting.... Thanks for posting it! Smile
Very Interesting stuff.

And about google's spellchecker, well i've often used google if there is a word that i'm not sure of especially bc it is very easy and quite handy.

just out of curiousity, what are the 6 types of email users?
Real cool stuff

I didn't know that the simplicity of google was due to the webmasters unknowingness

However their unknowingness gave born too a new kind of cool layout
It is too good
They touch the script and it becomes precious and works

Too cool

Hope they do more such kind of things

However waiting for their next launch
The founders of the single number 1, most visited site didn't know HTML?
Thats so unbelievable, I don't believe it.
lol... why would u not believe it? o.O there are programs that do not require u to know the HTML and u can easily make a web page... And just because of the reason those programs werent that good then Google is so simple page. I really love it as a home page and will allways keep it that way. (btw i never used the "I feel lucky" button although i wonder what is it for every time i get to google Razz ). Thanks for the funny facts and i can easily believe they are true, atleast most of them ^^
jongoldsz wrote:
I don't believe you. The people who made google were teenagers and they knew php. How else would google start? It couldn't just one day appear.

It is true.I had read it before.
yees its funny.. but before starting a web page many peaple don't know html.. so.. its funny.. but often because starting aproject you learn programming languages and its possibilities...

but i think it all makes some peaple think else about google... Smile
Ravi wrote:
1) The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn't know HTML and just wanted a quick interface.

This is inaccurate. A posting at Slashdot by another person who attended that talk clears up much of the confusion.

RgrRbbt at Slashdot wrote:

1. Mayer never said the Google founders "didn't know HTML." What she actually said was that Brin came up with the original look, but decided not to add complexity because "he said he didn't do HTML" (emphasis theirs), as in he considered it pedestrian and didn't want to bother with it.

This correction and other clarifications can be found here.
quite interesting to read how in a (relitively) short amount of time how a tiny company became a house hold name..

amazing what can happen if you have a good idea and are willing to do a bit of work.
I personally like the simplicity of the normal google homepage. None of that yahoo advertisement or news crap.
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