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Google Feels The Need For Speed

Doug Caverly
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-11-10

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At Google, speed is important. The company's home page is well known for its quick-to-load simplicity, and a study found that although users claimed to prefer 30 search results per page, their limited patience was better suited to 10. The company has also established that a 30% cut in the size of the Google Maps home page corresponded to an immediate 10% increase in traffic.

Google executive Marissa Mayer talked extensively about "speed" at the Web 2.0 Summit, and ZDNet's Dan Farber recorded her comments. "If you have each transaction take less time, you have expert users more satisfied. You want lots of small and fast interactions if speed is important," she said.

Mayer was open about Google's shortcomings in terms of quickness. She gave one example by comparing Google Video to Youtube. "YouTube let people see the video right away," Mayer noted, according to Elinor Mills. "That's why it did so well." Google Video users, by comparison, faced a waiting period of two to four days.

Google is working hard to fix these faults, though. "Even applications like Google Maps for Mobile, while good, are fundamentally too slow. You will see improvements to speed that up," promised Mayer. There may not be much room for improvement in Gmail, though - "the key motivator for us developing Gmail in Ajax was speed," said Mayer.

Google's concentration on speed can only work to the users' benefit. And it seems that Larry and Sergey may have a special place for speed in their hearts - they both invested in the Tesla Roadster, the electric car that does 0 to 60 MPH "in about four seconds."

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