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Does anyone else find that they've been trained by Google's positioning of sponsored links into ignoring the first few links on a search page? I bring it up because on the Duck Duck Go search page, I missed the link to Hacker News the first couple times I looked. I was so conditioned by Google's sponsored link placement, I was treating the third link as if it was the first.

EDIT: Okay, I really don't like the positioning of the "official site" result. To me, it should be below the sponsored links, not above. The reason is that when you're searching for something where DDG doesn't have an "official site" entry, the first search result appears below the sponsored links. However, when DDG knows the "official site" for your search query, it places that result above the sponsored links. In practice, this means that you have to look in two places for the "first" result - above the sponsored links and below. Placing the "official site" result below the sponsored links would resolve this inconsistency.




We've been fighting against this problem since we first launched. Our zero-click box has gone through several iterations with it in mind, and people kept skipping over it. This latest iteration I think (from user testing) does the best job so far of combating that unconscious inclination.

That's interesting on official site placement. We thought it would be better for the user to put that official site link first (it's also in the zero-click info box btw). But it people think it should be below, I have no problem with that.


I'm no UI/UX expert here, but the official site does seem to get lost between the zero-click box and yellow sponsored result.


I hesitate to call myself an expert at anything, but I'm an employed UX designer and yeah, it does get lost. At best, the eye is drawn to the yellow box, then to the "next" content below it. At worst, banner blindness kicks in and the user skips all the content above that yellow box. (This is what happened to me.)


I'm so used to visually ignoring ads that, because the sponsored link is hilited yellow, I notice it first, subconsciously realize that it's a sponsored link ("MP3 player for 'hacker news'? -- yeah, that's an ad), and then immediately start looking below it.

If I'd had just 5 seconds to glance at the page and then answer the question, "what was the top result for 'hacker news'?", I would have sworn up and down that it was "The Hacker News Network" and there was just empty space above the ad.


I thought your comment was probably too heavily analyzed and a result of the different=bad bias. So I went to the link, and said to myself, "The first link is obviously that." I found that I was looking straight at the Hacker News Network link and was very surprised.


Google has done the research for you here, and placing the official site link above the sponsored links may seem like an interesting idea, but it shouldn't be there.

It should be the first site listed with all the other sites IMO.

Otherwise it's the "official" sponsored link in my mind. Which doesn't make much sense.


The only major color on the page is the red navbar and the yellow sponsored ad. The sponsored ad draws my attention and then I go below it since it's an ad.

The zero click info and official site badge are both grey which makes them fade away into the background; not stand out like intended.


Given DDG's relatively ad-blind early-adopter audience, I reckon the sponsored link would get more attention if it wasn't highlighted in yellow (I don't think this is a "dark pattern" when the text "sponsored link" appears next to it - alternatively the sponsored status could be clearly but not obtrusively indicated with a badge similar to the "official site" badge)


I think it's great. It's not the "normal" UI that people expect - and that's a good thing. Google defined what everyone seems to be calling normal. If people make the switch to DDG they'll understand how the results work and what to expect.


It could stop people from switching though - I didn't see the "right" link when I went there - I just skipped past the yellow box like many people. That led me to get a feeling that the results weren't very good.

It wasn't until I read the comments that I realized that I missed the link that I would have wanted, and the results were good.

It's not ideal that people have been trained to subconsciously skip over certain results, but it's something that has to be accounted for. Otherwise you're going to leave the completely wrong impression in a significant portion of your potential users's minds.


I personally like the official site placement. It saves me time. The sponsored link and yellow background is the floor and I'm drawn to everything above it (a problem if the official site is a sponsored link though I guess). It's a different experience from Google and it works for me - Google does not set UE or UI law. We've become accustomed to Google's way though and it's not necessarily wrong to offer a different experience. Getting past the UE expectations of Googlers though must be quite the product hurdle though.


I think it's going to just be a matter of "reconditioning". When you move from one UI to another, you tend to carry over habits from the other. But as you use the tool more, you'll become conditioned to paying more attention to the top gray box first, and then if that's not what you're looking for, moving to the results (below the sponsored link).


Unfortunately for DDG, those habits need to be taken into account seeing as they're the underdog. When getting people to change to a new interface, the process should be as painless as possible to prevent resistance.

The other day, I went to the kitchen to eat an orange. After a moment, I changed my mind because I didn't feel like peeling it. I quickly realized that it was silly to let 10 seconds of work prevent me from enjoying what I wanted, but that is the power of even the smallest obstacle.


You should make more prominent the link to the official site in the zero-click box and don't display it twice. Right now the zero-click box header links to the Wikipedia article. That should point to the official site. (If the user disabled the zero-click box then list the ad links first, then the real results.)


I tell you a secret: you can turn off the ads in the settings menu.

I, personally, wouldn't mind the sponsored links if only they were relevant. Of course, if they were relevant, sponsoring wouldn't be necessary.


Thanks, I didn't know about that setting!

I can only assume it won't be there forever for obvious reasons, but it's nice to have it for now (especially because of the UI issues mentioned elsewhere in this thread).


I'd say one big reason I missed it at first was because there was no hacker news little orange [Y] box on the left side of the link. Scrolling further down the page, this logo appears on the second iteration of the HN link.


Exactly. The lack of icon and description - which all the first few results below the sponsored link have - causes me to want to ignore the 'Official Site' result. If it had an icon I think I would be more likely to view the yellow as a break between the results rather than a separation between two different kinds of content.


It should generally have an icon -- looks to be a caching bug.




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