My search box is bigger than yours.

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It’s no secret that companies make slight changes to their products to get you to use more of their products. The most powerful example of this came to me via an old time ad executive who was telling me about an incident in his younger days on Madison Avenue when he was in the office of a very large toothpaste maker.  As a young copywriter, he was brought along to the high-powered meeting with the senior account executives and creative team. The ad agency and the toothpaste executives were trying to figure out a way to create more demand for their toothpaste. Ideas were thrown up on the wall one at a time: increase the media budget, hire a famous spokesperson, testimonials, dentist recommendations, new flavors, etc., All of the ideas had been tried before and were instantly canned. The solution came from the young buck, who blurted out, “why don’t you just make the hole bigger?” Bingo. That was it. Making the hole where the toothpaste came out bigger meant that people would use up more toothpaste faster, thus running out sooner, thus needing to run down to the store and pick up another tube. In other words, creating more demand. The technique was tried and sales increased. Crafty? Maybe. Evil? It’s a dog eat dog world out there. The truth is, companies will stop at nothing if they are trying to increase demand. So when I came across a recent article on Google‘s official blog titled “Now S-U-P-E-R-sized“.  I was not surprised to find out that Google was making a slight change to the design of their homepage. The main design change is the size of the search box. After taking a gander at the old vs the new Google search box It seemed like a tiny change. The reason given for the change is,

“it symbolizes our focus on search and because it makes our clean, minimalist homepage even easier and more fun to use.”

But really? Is that the reason? I did a little digging and found others that had a differing opinion for the change. On Tech.Blorge they suggest that
by making the search box more prominent, users are ever-so-slightly more likely to try a new query rather than thumbing through page after page of results. The post goes on to suggest that they are trying to compete against Bing’s search page. This brought up an interesting question. Who had the bigger search engine box? Who had the bigger hole for the toothpaste to flow through? I took screen shots (from a Firefox browser on a Mac) and compared the two sites side by side. The result is that Bing had a much bigger search box, even after Google increased their size? Does this mean more people will be apt to search more on Bing because the search “hole” is bigger? Makes you wonder. Just like it makes you wonder why you can’t get that darned toothpaste back into the tube.

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