Googleyness and Yahoo! II

In this second installment of Googleyness and Yahoo! we compare the services that, you might say, keep the lights on; search engine marketing (SEM), to assess for ourselves which is “Googleyer”, according to Google’s own definition of Googleyness.

First, The Contender

Yahoo! Search Engine Marketing (SEM) UI

Trying to get to yahoo’s SEM service is not for the undetermined. Which site is correct?

http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/
http://advertising.yahoo.com/
http://advertising.yahoo.com/central/search_marketing.html
https://signup13.marketingsolutions.yahoo.com/signupui/signup/startSignup.do
https://marketingsolutions.login.yahoo.com
http://sem.smallbusiness.yahoo.com/searchenginemarketing/index.php

yahoo sem marketing

Is one just a different marketing angle to the same service? Are the services different? Which is the one I want? (Not to be confused with which one do I want?)

Not only are the programs, design and messaging confusing, it is clear that different technologies are applied to each, too. Direct effects of this latter element on user experience is subtle, to be sure. Yet it should not be discounted altogether. Various suffix endings, with the different domains, sub-domains and URIs (full document addresses) combine to support the impression of extreme service fragmentation, which surely does affect brand experience.

Once arriving at the service registration screen, a wizard-like process is presented. Another gauntlet to run. Want help? There’s a tutorial to watch, a toll free phone number to call, “Page Help” (contextual help), Assisted Setup, and a Glossary. Just a guess, but I’d say some have expressed difficulty registering (tongue in cheek, if not obvious). This might be a negative example of why, sometimes, “less is more.” I wonder if people sometimes need help using the help… what then, “Help Help”?

I don’t want to critique their work beyond the measure of “googlyness” purposed. However, the fragmented nature of their offering/s does seem to contribute to a sense of possible causality for at least a bit of googles leadership in SEM.

This is not to say that Yahoo!’s apparent weakness has no flip side. I assume that it is the long shadow of an advantage: many pathways do, sometimes, capture some seeking more than a single service, who will buy the bundle (sooner or later), instead. Not to mention service diversity as an intentional Yahoo! strategy. One which Google has not shyed from (many staff have worked at both), either.

There is one non-design detractor of Yahoo!’s SEM UI that merits mentioning, because of it’s affect on user experience: performance. A minority, but noticeable number, of transmissions took more than about five seconds to load, and one never did (ref. annotation on screen cap.).

Yahoo! SEM Googleyness

sem campaign manager - yahoo!

Again, if we give the ten principals each a 1-10 score we have a simple, subjective, UX score card.

UX Score Card

  1. (8) Focused on people—their lives, their work, their dreams?
  2. (3) Does every millisecond count?
  3. (4) Powerfully simple? (Getting to it, 0. The UI when there, 8.)
  4. (4) Engaging beginners / attracting experts?
  5. (4) Daringly innovative?
  6. (2) Designed for the world?
  7. (3) Planned for today’s and tomorrow’s business?
  8. (2) Enlighting the eye without distracting the mind?
  9. (5) Worthy of people’s trust? (If it were not Yahoo!, would you still use it?)
  10. (2) Adding a human touch?

Total UX score: 37. Ouch.

Let’s call it going thirty five in the seventy mile per hour zone. It is easy, however accurate, to infer from the cacophony of visual voices speaking to those seeking an SEM solution from Yahoo! that disparate groups are responsible for various parts of the service experience. Hey Yahoo!, your organizational structure is showing! And, it seems, you’re not talking with each other (across time, or buildings) enough. The result of organic (read, weed-like) growth, I’d venture.

With, one group for marketing, another for the Small Business bundle, and an altogether different approach to the application itself (thankfully, too: it nearly redeems all), many people (a.k.a. “users”) will experience fatique by the time they get to the Advertising Campaigns management screen, or feel lost… maybe never arriving at Oz.

Googley Googlers Googling

Now let’s see how Googley is Google’s SEM offering, Adwords:

  1. (7) Focused on people—their lives, their work, their dreams?
  2. (8) Does every millisecond count?
  3. (7) Powerfully simple?
  4. (6) Engaging beginners / attracting experts?
  5. (7) Daringly innovative?
  6. (7) Designed for the world?
  7. (6) Planned for today’s and tomorrow’s business?
  8. (4) Enlighting the eye without distracting the mind?
  9. (8) Worthy of people’s trust?
  10. (4) Adding a human touch?

Total UX score: 57.

sem campaign manager - yahoo!

Sorry to say that I do not see much of a “human touch” in the AdWords visual motif. Nor does it enlighten the eye without distracting my mind. It is easy to see the effort in organization, for a good deal of “powerful simplicity.” But in review, we can see that the real substance of Adwords’ Googleyness and UX value comes more from non-design elements, of brand trust and technology performance, which are, of course, no less important as UX / UE considerations. And, of course, no lessor achievements.

Well, little wonder then that Google does seem to be Googlyer than Yahoo! when it comes to the UI design of their respective SEM offerings. But then, as one wise man recently said, “Whoever creates the language controls the debate.”

Our little evaluation of both UX and service interface design for Google’s and Yahoo!’s top services proves, at least, that you don’t have to be Google to be Googlely. And that Googleyness can take any of a number of forms. Interestingly, Google’s UX principals do not mention the value of consistent brand experience, in terms of service interface design across many, many services. Perhaps this doesn’t ring the marketing bells. But it is certainly one of Google’s strengths, and a significant source of what many would consider “Googley” design.

In summary, it’s not easy being Googley. Though it is clear that there are the trade-offs to Googleyness. As one tries to “enlighten the eye,” there may be risk to being less “powerfully simple,” and visa versa. As we focus on (specific) people’s lives, work, and dreams, we may lose some the rest of the world we design for. Etcetera. Though it certainly is possible to do all of these things, the best balance may best be struck by greater effort in each of the complementary directions. Wouldn’t you say?

About Michael Cummings 31 Articles
Michael Cummings has been planning, designing, and producing interactive systems since 1995.
Contact: Website

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