How Google changes its search page
“We do a lot with public data, and can use that to give people context.
"For instance, you may want to know the population of a country - but we can put that in context, and show you different countries, for instance.”
Henry also revealed a little bit of Google’s process for rolling out changes.
“From the experiments we run to bringing people in, our goal is for it not to surprise users - it should be a natural progression.
“We also recently carried out a major study called DIN, daily information needs, where we looked at how people were using search, and that has been incredibly useful.”
He also addressed the sparse nature of the Google search homepage, but said it’s relatively easy to make changes - if they’re good enough. “It’s actually not that hard to make changes to our search homepage,” he said.
“If it’s going to provide a better experience for users, it doesn’t take much. It really comes down to the benefit users will gain - if we can provide that data point, its not as hard as you might think - but that said, we are very cautious with it.”
Henry is also wary of showing people too much.
“We want to focus on the data, but many people don’t understand complex visualisations,’ he said.
“It’s about a minimalistic approach, what the most value you can provide with the least amount of complexity.”