I have never once had my search experience enhanced by this anti-feature, and most of the time it's a hindrance, because I'll start reading the search results, then based on that come up with a new query and start typing it while continuing to scan the page. In non-instant world, maybe 60% of the time I'll end up finding what I want to click on as I continue to scan the page, then stop typing and click on that (or I'll be reading the name of someone that I want to google from the except from the page). In instant world, I have to read the whole page, decide if I need to make a new query, then type it (which is the exact opposite of the intent of instant, mind you).
The worst thing about Instant was that if you started typing something that didn't have results it wanted to display (because maybe it was a NSFW-type query or because it just didn't have good results for the incomplete string), rather than leaving the old page up until it had something it wanted to show, it would just blank the old page. Horrible.
This is a great example of how, from an ML/NLP standpoint, Instant-Search promoted confirmation-bias. If the idea is to learn how a user searches, that user should not be told how they should search.
Hmm, is it not just a matter of turning it off? Or are you doing something more advanced than using the standard Google search page?
My problem is I look at keywords from the results and want to use them to refine my search, and as soon as I type the first letter of my refinement, I lose access to the words I need.
And as you say, results on half words have never helped anyone, and there are already suggestions for what these half words might expand to.
If you have an account it stays off? I always hated instant and disabled it, and never had to disable it again...?
And it moves the design closer to the horrible design creeping into applications today: instead of designing for every device, too many apps are designed for the worst platform, which is mobile. Capital One just redesigned their entire site for mobile, which added a lot more navigation/clicks for web users. That's just inferior design. Actually, it's not even design, it's just inferior hack layout.
We live in an era where original web page design was horrible, and somehow we continue to make pages harder and harder to use. There's a pervasive myth among app designers and startups to just 'remove' functionality instead of actually delivering smart functionality. Simplifaction for ease of use is geat, but most simplification is just reducing an app to a single button and just makes real functionality harder to use. Omnibox falls into that trend. Make the search results better, get rid of spam, and stop spending even one second writing code to move the text input around inexplicably.
Good design should be invisible - I shouldn't notice it. Moving elements around after I've started interacting with them is just unnecessary annoyance with no benefit to me as a user. I don't want another crappy universal search bar, which is all this is. I just want to enter a search and move to the next page, so I can try and sift through the crappily selected results Google spits out. I already know Google's results are going to be poor enough I'll have to wade through them, why slow me down up front?
And so on.
You can easily switch to a different new page or use the address bar from the beginning.
What solution does this solve for me, the user, to have to determine that in this one instance, the textbox can't be used, but on literally every other application out of millions of web applications, text boxes work correctly?
Does anyone know of Google search keyboard shortcuts even without instant?
This was a marketing feature more than anything else so google could boast about how fast their search engine was. However, it always had tons of usability problems for no added benefit to the user, especially when refining a previous search, or trying to retype some funky word you found in the results.
The irony is it took about 4 weeks to get up to a useable speed. I kept using it for almost two years afterwards because it was so nice to have a trackball in my right hand and complete control of the keyboard with my left hand, and not have to ever move either hand.
The main point is that during this time I was a slow typist, and looking at the screen while doing it. It was rather agonizing. Deep sympathies for disabled individuals was developed during that time.
I guess that for the intersection of slow typists who look at the screen while typing, Instant Search is useful. But how big is this intersection really?
One of the amusing things was that users would follow the instant results without necessarily being consciously aware of them. I.e., when describing their interactions with prototypes, only a few noticed and pointed out that they were getting results without pressing Enter, yet a larger number clicked on them. It had to be pointed out to them, at which point they would often go "whoa". I remember a few non technical users who really raved about it.
Maybe it would just end up feeling random and unreliable though.
If I try to hint and say, "look, there's an autocompletion thing that has already guessed correctly what you are painfully trying to write, why don't you click the top suggestion?" she just shushes me away (she's busy concentrating on typing). So I have stopped doing that, and am now just resigned to sit and wait, whenever these things happen.
This was such a disruptive feature. Completely distracting from the moment you interact with the page. This wasn't a productivity bonus in any way, regardless of purported reading recognition rates and eye tracking/movement measurements.
No, computer. You wait until I'm finished. You wait until I tell you I want you to do something. You don't jump at every flinch of my fingers. Not all interactions require reaction.
A: "We could save hundreds of millions in hardware resources if we disabled instant search."
B: "But we might lose money if we don't show as many ads. OH WAIT..."
The guy did a search and realized that the suggestion menu overlaps on the top of the page, where the ads are displayed.
He then tried to click the ad and he couldn't because the ad results changed the moment he moved his cursor away from the search bar.
It took them 7 years to realize their mistake!
The extra load due to this feature was not insignificant. I heard it was the equivalent of an entire datacenter.
1) Type stuff into google.com
2) Delete all the text
You are now on a totally empty results page. Why is this a sensible design?
Every. Single. Time.
I know, I know, it's my fault. But it's not.
And well, there's many keyboards out there with no right Alt, meaning that you have to use two hands to execute that shortcut. So, I really don't think, it's a good idea to try to force people away from using backspace, as bad of a key as it is to be using for this...
It's just muscle memory - I've been using backspace since '97 or so.
It is very, very sad that it is no longer possible to use those.
It is awesome. I love it. Speed boost.
You can press j to scan forward one result and k to scan backwards and enter or command enter to jump to a result
It works on a bunch of other sites too like hacker news and reddit!
I am NOT the author
I completely hated how as I was typing I would change my mind and decide maybe I did want to click on a link only to see it instantly disappear. Then the back-button didn't work as expected, so I just ended up having to re-type my query.
Especially annoying when testing multiple queries to find the optimal one and you decided that a query of 3 submissions ago was the most effective and you couldn't remember it precisely.
This feature has been the bane of my Google existence. I often want to hit backspace to go back a page, but because their search bar steals my focus, I instead remove a letter or two and perform a search again.
I have never, not once, found this feature to be useful. Who doesn't type faster than they can read a page of results?
No instant search
No steal focus on result page (and thus, no breaking backspace)
No overriding arrow key scroll into weird blue-arrow modal UI
Basically 2010 era google, all at one stroke.
The result quality is still kind of meh though.
But yeah, that is interesting. They supposedly lose/lost a lot of money from that button, as it skips past their ads.
Also, they are supposedly redesigning the Google Homepage , moving away from having just the search field there to having a news feed, the weather and some such there as well.
So, maybe this change is in anticipation of that and maybe they'll also tuck some ads into there then, to actually monetize the time people spend on their homepage.
Google's "robots.txt" file doesn't let bots read their home page. Most other pages on Google are bot-readable, but not the home page. It's like they don't want it to be indexed by other search engines. That might change once it gets content.
I thought it was funny because they touted how relevant their search results were then blasted you with seemingly random pictures.
Was this removed as well? :-/
May be off-topic, but I remember an incidence from Home Depot when I asked a staff member to look something up for me. She pulled up a browser (think it was IE), typed google in the nav bar (perhaps to get to google.com) and got the bing search result for search term 'google'. Then she continued on to use the bing search to look for Home Depot's site (I assume she was thinking she is searching on Google).
I didn't get what I was looking for, but I did leave wondering about use-case or user interaction scenarios like this that I would have never thought of.
Yeah, I think that Instant Search must have had its value for people, even if not much for me.
Now it would be nice if google would stop choosing french as a search language because I live there, I have to set it up everyday and I don't want to enable cookies... I don't know if I can access google with english as default in some special page.
But hey, cmd+q to quit immediately, with "warn before quit" off by default is a great idea. No need to look at that one or make it possible to change the key bind. Never mind that it's one key away from cmd+tab.
This is the kind of stuff you get when you make decisions based on A/B testing.
I probably could have been clearer in my original comment, my apologies.
They had to return data for many search results on entry, in addition to suggested autocomplete. Now they just return suggested autocomplete. I'm sure everything in google instant is served from a cached cdn, but it's still going to be "some" server load that is removed.
Nice to know they've gotten rid of it.
Is there a way to change this?
I honestly cannot understand your sentiment, how can knowing something you are interested in exists be worse than not knowing at all?
(Edit: And that holds for the doodle too. They are sometimes funny, but not so much so as to warrant making me lose focus. I'm working, not watching TV)
(It's worse because I've never wanted the Shopping button, ever, but it's bad design regardless.)
I clearly remember one day logging onto my machine, going to google to search for something and just sitting there with my jaw on the ground as the "instant" feature began searching as I typed. I must've sat there for at least 5 minutes. I then proceeded to call my friends and made them go to google to "just execute a query". The response was "those motherf&kers actually ripped off our idea".
I will say, while the idea was "new" (no one was doing it at the time as far as we were aware of), the hackathon code was pure garbage PHP and JS fueled by free pizza & soda and stitched together to leverage the Yahoo APIs.
We went back and actually looked at our server logs (it was running a .edu/students/ site at the time as part of our portfolios) and noticed SIGNIFICANT traffic spikes from Google & MSFT registered corp IPs. Unfortunately, we figured there was nothing we could do to prove that we* invented it.
Something for you to chuckle at:
- Only reference I could find is a wayback link to the 2009 hackathon page ("Skynet Search" was also 'contextual' and knew if you wanted images or maps or directions without having you to make extra clicks). There used to be a blog post mention on yahoo as we got some runner-up prize. 
- Google Instant Launched Sept 2010 
And I'm fairly sure I wasn't the first to think of that either.
Just because you think you think of something 'first' doesn't mean you really are the first and doesn't mean that your idea is being ripped off by others, most likely they were totally unaware of 'your' idea, just like they were unaware of mine.
Most of these are obvious anyway.
So Mayer does it again, lol. My favorite thing is how this lady was praised as some sort of genius for managing the Google search page - as if that page is some marvel of modern engineering and not just a webpage with and input and no background.
Having worked on Google Search during this period, I can say definitively that your comment is mostly incorrect. Features at Google are generally bottom-up driven. Mayer was in many ways acting as a gatekeeper to keep some of the crazier stuff from harming the experience or brand.
Secondly, the heart of my comment is how some people are raised up to insane heights on mediocre achievements. Even if she was a great "gatekeeper" as you say, there's really nothing in that skill that sounds particularly impressive and certainly not worth the obscene amounts of money and praised heaped upon her up until her public fall from grace.
And while I'm at it I suppose I should chime in on Instant - always seemed like a waste of resources to me. What is so hard about hitting Enter? Personally it always annoyed me. Obviously many people will disagree with me but when I found out that one of the most annoying changes to google search had been pushed hard by Mayer I couldn't help but comment.
The real driver for Google Instant was Larry. He saw a demo that had been floating around and said "I want that." When one of the founders wants something, they tend to get it.
I agree with you that she liked it, and signed off on the product. However, we had to scale the infrastructure 7x. That wasn't a VP level of money, that was a BoD level of money. The decision to push the launch was made by Eric.
7x infra to support it...what was the value prop for this?
My service did not get 7x the resources for launch. We did bring up more capacity, but we also improved things here and there. That's work that would have been needed anyway.
Last but not least, there were infrastructure improvements that helped reduce resources in search and other products. Bob Wyman's LinkedIn page says that his team helped with Instant, but also saved AdSense 100k+ cores, while increasing serving capacity and reducing latency.
As for the value: speed, differentiation and sheer coolness.
I wouldn't have expected a VP to be involved in infrastructure, and machine planning.