I’m feeling lucky

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Back in the days before search boxes were integrated into the browser chrome and I actually had to use the Google homepage, I rarely chose the I’m Feeling Lucky button. At the time I was in a search mindset and wanted results to browse, not redirection to an unknown site. The integrated browser search has changed my mindset and expected results.

There are two scenarios where I need a search engine’s help: research where I want a number of results with varied sources or tracking down a URL where I know the source but just don’t know how to get to it. For example, if I’m trying to find a company’s website but don’t know if it’s a .com or .net or whether or not their name is hyphenated, all I want is for Google to redirect me to the proper URL. Another example is finding bands’ websites which often have extras like “music” or “band” or “the” included in the URL or are subdomains off their record label’s site.

This is where the address bar’s hidden functionality comes in handy. In Firefox, it has for a long time (always?) returned an I’m Feeling Lucky result – a few keywords most likely takes you to the domain you were aiming for, sans .com’s and the like. In FF2 it borrows from the IE Google Toolbar functionality in that it uses Browse by Name, which is slightly different. If you enter a query Google isn’t confident in the results for, it takes you to a Google search results page rather than a random website.

Eventually Google might be smart enough that the browser’s search box becomes unneeded. Comparing the queries entered there with a search mindset, they are typically the sort the Browse by Name function wouldn’t be confident in the results for. I once mentioned developing habits resulting in no longer using the File->Open dialogue. Perhaps this is another instance of further developing certain aspects of an application to eventually no longer need those previously seen as must have’s.


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