Last week we posted an article on Zimbabwe’s Google search trends in 2009. In the article we noted something interesting about how people use browsers and search engines. The top ‘rising searches’ in 2009 on Google for 2009 are all variations of facebook; “facebook.com”, “www.facebook.com”, “facebook login”, and just “facebook”. Shows just how much more popular the social networking site has become in the past year. It also shows something else; people Google Facebook instead typing it directly into the address bar.
Either user just don’t ‘get’ how browsers work or they’re telling the browser makers this concept of having an address bar where people type in URLs is old and needs to go. Currently, a typical browsing screen contains an address bar, a browser search box on the top right corner and a search engine site search box inside the page. If the search insights are anything to go by, users don’t see any distinction there. All that screen real estate can be put to better use.
Google understands this. When the Google Chrome browser was released this year, they removed the distinction between the address bar and the search box. You can type search keywords right into the address bar. Quite intuitive actually. It’s hard to use Firefox 3.5 now when you expect it to interpret what you type into its address bar as search words and not as an address.
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Today for example,e I typed in “Zimbabwe” and Firefox tried to take me to “http://zimbabwe/” which of course doesn’t exist. Some credit here where it’s due: Firefox was able to interpret “GNU Zimbabwe” as a search phrase. But again this “works sometimes” behavior just doesn’t work for me so I packed my bookmarks; I’ll go live in the house made of Chrome. There’s a bonus too, starting last week Chrome now supports what has been Firefox’s selling point since it’s debut; Extensions.
I’m sure Firefox and the rest will probably include this smart address bar in their next release but for now there is a browser that behaves in line with user behavior, a browser that has one field to input addresses and queries alike.