In the past few months’ time I’ve spent more than my usual amount of time watching others surf the web. I am always astonished by how poor people are at knowing where to type searches, or web addresses, or login information. When I ask someone to go to a website, there is genuine confusion about where or how. It’s no surprise to me that a thriving sub-economy exists based on navigational searches – which I define loosely as “typing a web site URL into a search box because you want to visit it.”
Most of the time it’s user issues that causes navigational searches IMO:
The toolbars have been dragged out of whack.
I don’t even think about, I just type.
Ambiguity between “search”, “find”, and “address bar” in browsers such as IE7.
Alcohol or Drugs, Senility, or perhaps Loud Children.
Some people have real reasons for it. Here are a few:
I don’t have to worry as much about typos.
I sometimes want to look at the cache
I get a quick glance at other sites referring to it (talk about ad-hoc reputation management!)
I’m a rebel, damnit, and you ain’t gonna change me.
A terrific article on navigational searches prompted me to begin a list of good resources on this matter. I also found this terrific write up by Jeremy Crane over at compete’s blog. It was also eye-opening.