At the surface, Microsoft’s Bing may look like Google, but once you dig in a bit you notice a lot of nice little enhancements that make a huge diference.
I’ve only been using Bing for the last 2 hours and I’ve already decided it is my new favorite search engine. The search results look very similar to google’s, but Microsoft’s added a ton of little useful features. My favorite is the left sidebar with search history and related results. I also really like the pop-out details you get whenever you hover over any search result. The site is very ease to use, but obviously has a lot of deep complexity in its design; a lot of “spit and polish”. Small things you may not even notice, like how the image search’s counter (IMAGES;”>1-16 of 1,510,000 results) will update as you scroll – pretty nice little feature that I’ll miss if I ever go back to search images on Google.
If you agree that Bing is useful, you may get frustrated if you are a Mac user because you can not update your Safari search bar to default to Bing. Luckily, I found a helpful little utility and how-to that remedies the situation.
I know there may be a temptation to argue the quality of the results – that somehow google’s search algorithms are somehow better and more sophisticated. First, good luck with that discussion, the results I am receiving are just as good as I get from google for my “real world” use . Second, who really cares? There are countless studies from Forrester and Gartner that prove people value ease of use more than they value content. Bing has the “ease of use” thing down. It’s pretty ironic because Google beat out Mapqwest’s user experience years ago with Google Maps, but they failed to innovate in search UX and now have been leapfrogged by Microsoft.
It is obvious to me that Microsoft has a renewed focus on user experience. Thy are investing heavily in us (the end user) and that investment is truly paying off.