Google's Number One UI Mistake

I agree with you in that I never use it, and removing it would certainly create a more efficient UI for me. That said, I don’t think it would be wise for Google to remove it. The Google landing page is inextricably part of the Google brand, an image we could probably sketch by heart if asked to do so. It also adds an element of friendliness to the page… one of the last remnants of Google’s self-professed friendliness now that it, you know, owns everything.

Essentially, I’d prefer if it wasn’t there, but I wouldn’t remove it if I were the brians behind Google.

Of interesting note, the Mozilla-affiliate page* does not appear to have the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button.

The biggest UI mistake is assuming usage behaviors without data to back it up. It’s quite possible that “no one” uses the I’m-feeling-lucky button, but really you’re not in a position to say that. I bet Google knows something that you’re only pretending to know – which is how it’s users use the Google homepage.

Jeff, I think you’re a little off-base with this comment:

“But typical users don’t really understand basic keyboard shortcuts. They love their mice, and their big, fat, honking “Search” buttons. That’s why the current versions of Firefox and IE both have an integrated “go” button directly next to the address bar-- so users have something obvious to click once they’ve typed the URL into the address bar. Otherwise, I guess, they’d sit there wondering if their computer had frozen.”

Understanding basic keyboard shortcuts and them actually being effective and useful are 2 different things. I develop web applications full-time and I use the “go” button very often because it is “actually faster” than the ENTER key in many circumstances I encounter. Personally, I use both the mouse and the keyboard, and often at the same time… so why not make a UI that works for both mouse-centered users and keyboard-centered users?

Regarding the Go buttons that go with browser address bars, if you copy and paste a URL using just the mouse, you’d hate to have your hand leave the mouse to find the Enter key. So, it works both ways :slight_smile:

Hi Jeff, Love your site, but you haven’t done your research. Google has done testing on this, and found that people felt more connection to Google when there was a button with that kind of tone.

Here’s one of 100 articles online that discusses it:

The fact is, you’re advocating changing something that is FAR from a “UI mistake” and you’ve totally overlooked the #1 reason why they include it – branding – which makes me wonder how qualified you are to talk about UI design at all.

I’m reminded of Jerry Seinfeld’s but about the “XX billion served” signs at McDonald’s…

“Look, we all get it. You’ve sold a lot of hamburgers. Why don’t you just put up a sign that says, “McDonald’s – we’re doing very well.” I am tired of hearing about every damn one of them.”

At this point, nobody is impressed or persuaded by how many billions McDonald’s has served, but it’s part of their identity.

I use it a lot as a Firefox search keyword when I know, from prior visits, that the first result of the search will be the website I’m looking for.

I define a bookmark that points to’m+Feeling+Lucky

I give it the keyword “gl” in the bookmark’s properties window.

And then I type “gl coding horror” in the firefox URL text field.


I suggest you take a look at Blackle ( It is basically the Google search page, simplified, and with a black background in order to take a small step towards saving energy by saving Watts. Their goal, to save Megawatt-hours each year.

Interested? Check out their about page

I sadly use the button all the time.

I think it has to do with the fact that instead of remembering URLs these days, I just remember the google keywords that got me to the page. My google history is horrendous, #1 search is “archlinux”… because typing out “” would be a bitch.

Hmmm… Just greasemonkey it away, non?

As has been pointed out many times already I skip the step of even going to Google, using the Google search extension in FF when I want to see the full results and when I want the first result, simply typing it into the address bar and hitting the magic ENTER key.

Also, it is true that I personally never click any variant of the “GO” button, but I see my parents doing it constantly. They’re much more comfortable with a mouse than a keyboard, whereas I’d much rather do more with the keyboard.

Hi Jeff,

I think that this button is like pub.

I click on ads once a year and I believe that everyone is like me.

If everyone were really like me then no one would pay to put their names and logos on web sites.

Some ads are there only for visibility. There is somebody somewhere who bought a car from Ford, GM, Honda… After clicking on their ads ? I guess that nobody did.

I’m like you, I use this button only once a decade…

The reason why these bytes are there on the main page, it’s, maybe because that’s not everyone are like us.


I use it constantly, every day (though indirectly), as a number of Firefox bookmark keywords.

Quotes an article from WashingtonPost,

Google executives have long known that almost no one uses [the button].
“If we took it away, there would be mass protests worldwide,” said Marissa Mayer, vice president for search products and user experience. “It’s part of our heritage. It’s part of what users really like about us.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Geoff is right, Google has tested the crap out of their UI to the point where even the copyright notice was tested in because it gave users a feeling that the page had loaded.

Trust me, you may think it is clutter, but it is there for a utterly dogged and tested reason.

From the Washington Post article Haochi quoted:

[Marissa] Mayer said the button is used in far fewer than 1 percent of Google searches. When company testers have asked users if they know what it does, many say no, executives recount. When told the button will help them speed past the usual list of search results, they say they’re still not interested.

From the same article:

Google had been adding more text to the page, promoting company jobs, advertising and other services until the number of words had reached the mid-50s. “Users really began squawking at us,” she recounted. Now, she said, “we’re trying to keep the number of words down.” As of yesterday, the home page contained 33.

So we’re talking about a company that agonizes over the number of individual words on its home page, yet allows a button with three words that-- according to Google itself-- “far fewer than 1 percent” of users actually use to hog what is the Boardwalk and Park Place of internet real estate?

I stand by my original point: the “I’m feeling Lucky” button was arguably fun/whimsical/useful in 2001 when people were still new to Google, but it’s completely irrelevant in 2007 now that they rule the internet.

But why does it bother you so much? It is not a major design flaw now is it???

The Firefox toolbar actually has an IFL button, which I learned the hard way after I created my own custom search engine extension using this website:’’s+I’m+Feeling+Lucky+methodin=utfou=onomod=pn

I too was discussing the issues very recently with colleagues and I was actually surprised to find the IFL button still there on Google’s home page. After all, it’s absent from most of their other search/results pages, and it has to cost Google money in terms of Ad revenue.

But then I started using it. It’s wonderful! It saves me a click through the 1st search result 90% of the time. I use it mainly from FF’s search toolbar and when I suspect my keyword won’t generate a 100% 1st hit, I just switch momentarily to the regular search. That, however, hardly happens any more. Even when Google’s #1 result isn’t exactly the page I was looking for (again, this rarely happens any more), it’s usually very relevant and a good substitute.

For long Google users have been using the search engine as a “jump to” box, not really as a “find me everything that matches ___”. That explains why so many of the search queries submitted to Google are actually URLs, or fragments thereof (this, according to Google).

I have to ask: did you actually try it? Did you try working with IFL as your default search for a day? You’d be pleasantly surprised.

– A recent convert

While I’m not bothered by the button like Jeff, I don’t buy the argument that the button should stay because of branding or that it creates an image of the company as “whimsical”. At least not now after all these years.

I would think the Google logo does a good enough job of that. There are other ways to be whimsical.