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Have you ever seen or heard of someone using it?

Back in the days when Google didn't automatically redirected you to the results page as you typed, I think not a lot of people used the "I'm Feeling Lucky!" button (as backed by this and other references). They would rather click "Search" or "Enter" and be taken to the results page and from there they'd be happy to click on the first result that Google provided (if that's the case) and repeat this over and over for as long as they needed to go back to the page.

What is so appealing about the results page? Why people like to hand-pick the results, even when the Software and the User agree on the best solution? Why would the user like to skim through inaccurate results that rank lower than the actual software's best result before they actually take action?

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@Downvoter, I'd like to know how to improve my question! –  edgarator Sep 5 '12 at 3:54
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I wasn't the downvoter, but I suspect it may be because you're making claims about the frequency of use that may not be supported by the actual data. Also, I've fixed your title - hope it accurately represents your question. –  dhmholley Sep 5 '12 at 8:20
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+1 I do not see why this was downvoted, it's definitely within the scope of this forum. –  AndroidHustle Sep 5 '12 at 13:02
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Why don't people use the "Search" button on my slot machine more often? –  Luke Charde Sep 5 '12 at 22:34
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Maybe people just aren't feeling lucky? ;-) –  Virtuosi Media Sep 7 '12 at 5:55
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7 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

There are two psychological key aspects that are in play when it comes to this matter.

  • Users want to feel as they are in control
  • Users (people) want the ability to choose

The I'm feeling lucky feature does not cater to either of these aspects.

It is true that the user and the SEO will agree on the most suiting search result on a majority of the time. However, the amount in clicks is in no way a reflection on the time spent focusing on the additional search results. As seen in this graph:

Google SERP heatmap

(image source)

The users will click the top search result a majority of the time. But at the same time they will on average also review the second and perhaps the third search result as well. This goes back to the previously mentioned aspects. Users don't want to feel like they're missing out on what they're seeking.

They want to be in control, requesting a range of search result and skimming through them. They want to choose, after skimming through the search result even though they on a majority of the time will choose the SEO top result.

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Slight tangent: that "graph" has horribly misleading colours. :S –  dhmholley Sep 5 '12 at 8:23
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@dhmholley well, I wouldn't say so. It follows the same colour pattern that is used to graphically represent eye tracking charts. However if they in their turn has a bad choice of colours is a whole other matter. =) –  AndroidHustle Sep 5 '12 at 8:31
    
Is that chart/stats actually from somewhere? –  Ben Brocka Sep 5 '12 at 19:15
    
@BenBrocka well, yea... it didn't appear out of thin air. –  AndroidHustle Sep 5 '12 at 21:03
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Was just hoping you could add a citation, ideally with the results; is it from this? savvypanda.com/blog/… –  Ben Brocka Sep 5 '12 at 23:58
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The obvious issue with the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button is that it doesn't do anything useful.

(ie it doesn't provide any information that you can't get by pressing 'Return' - which is always easier than having to pick the mouse up and press on a button)

If Google were to remove it one day, I'd be surprised if anyone noticed.

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If you use "I'm feeling lucky" and the first result isn't what you want, then what happens? You have to go back and perform the search again. I think that's a major deterrent, because nobody likes backtracking. Instead, the safer bet is to just do a normal search and manually pick a result.

(Also, everything else people have said is probably true as well)

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The simplest answer, from a UX perspective, is that it's not a predictable experience.

Second, even if you know what you're searching for, and you reasonably expect that the site you want is for sure going to be the first result, honestly who clicks on a button to search? You just press Enter (and you don't even have to do that anymore with Google's real-time results). So clicking on the button doesn't really save you much time either.

Third, as the answer above with the click rates shows, even the top result is only used half the time. So half the time, the user does not agree with the system about what the 'right' result should be.

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I think the previous answers are good but over complicating this.

The fact is nowadays when you type into Google results are pulled in immediately and the I'm feeling lucky button is removed. It's then displayed with each result in the list (which I've only just noticed!) but it's not in close proximity to it so users may not notice it.

It would be a good assumption to say most people use Google search with primarily the keyboard (search then hit enter) and I'm feeling lucky only shows up when a result is highlighted.

It's probably kept because its a throwback from Google's earlier days and helps add character, i.e. its more fun the functional.

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It's very much functional...as a search keyword to add to your browser. As you say, it doesn't provide real benefit over autosearch via the Google website. –  Brian Sep 5 '12 at 14:52
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I just saw a TED video by Shyam Sankar that talks about Human Computer Interaction. It uses many examples including how two humans with computers user business intelligence beat the Chess Supercomputer that beat Kasparov.

In the video, Sankar, mentions that:

Human Computer Simbiosis is making us more capable. So if you want to improve Human-Computer Simbiosis, what can you do?

You can start by designing the human into the process. Instead of thinking what a computer would do to solve the problem, design the solution around what the human would do as well. When you do this you will realize that you'll spend all of your time on the interface between man and machine. Specifically on designing around friction and interaction. In fact the friction is more important than the power of the man or the power of the machine in determining over all capability."

enter image description here

  • a = Analytic Capability
  • h = human
  • c = computer
  • M(h*c) = Gestalt of (Human & Computer)
  • 1+fi = Friction

As suggested by Shyam Sankar. he continues:

Computers don't detect novel patterns and new behavior, but humans do. Humans using technology, testing hypothesis, searching for insight by asking machines to do things for them. Osama Bin Laden wasn't caught by Artificial Intelligence, he was caught by dedicated, resourceful, brilliant people, in partnership with various technologies. As appealing as it might sound you can't algorithmically find your way to an answer. There's no find Terrorist Button, and the more data we integrate from the most bast variety of sources, accross a wide variety of data formats, from various disparate system the less effective data mining can be. Instead people will need to look at data and search for insight [...] the key for great results here, is finding the right type of cooperation [...][and this is done by] minimizing the friction at the interface.

In this sense the answer to my question is given by Sankar, by stating that the machine itself would never be able to analyze patterns, imagine or speculate the way humans do, on the other hand computers give us the tools to do these tasks more effectively. Such as choosing one of the results from the Google SERP. In other words, although users want to feel in control, or want to be given the ability to choose, deeper than that goes the nature of the relationship between human and computer.

Apple's Human-Computer Interaction Guidelines mention also that:

User Control

Allow the user, not the computer, to initiate and control actions. Some apps attempt to assist the user by offering only those alternatives deemed good for the user or by protecting the user from having to make detailed decisions. Because this approach puts the computer, not the user, in control, it is best confined to parts of the user interface aimed at novice users. Provide the level of user control that is appropriate for your audience.

The key is to provide users with the capabilities they need while helping them avoid dangerous, irreversible actions. For example, in situations where the user might destroy data accidentally, you should always provide a warning, but allow the user to proceed if they choose.

IMO the I'm feeling button is like a dangerous irreversible action.

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in fact, when we are discussing "I'm feeling lucky", it's practically gone. It don't take you to the most probable search result. Officially.

now, when you click "I'm feeling lucky", it changes to (seemingly) random something "I'm feeling trendy"/"I'm feeling wonderful"/"I'm feeling playful"/"I'm feeling hungry"/etc.

So, for answer on the question itself, I'd agree with the answer by AndroidHustle.

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