If you keep up with most business magazines, chances are you’ve noticed that there’s a current trend toward Google bashing. Is Google too big? Are they going to take over print media’s advertising? Are they stealing money away from media creators? Are they going to make PCs? Are they trying to take away market share from Microsoft by introducing productivity software? Etc. The onslaught of Google bashing articles is amazing. But what I haven’t read lately, is an article on why the majority of us (56% to be exact) use Google whenever we have to do a web search. From my perspective, that’s a more interesting question. Or to put it another way, "What makes Google so remarkable?"
If you’d like to find the answer to that question yourself, I’d encourage you to do a simple comparison (Note: this works best if you can open the following websites under four different tabs). First, go to the new yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com). Then go to msn (http://www.msn.com). Then go to netscape (http://www.netscape.com). And then finally go to Google (http://www.google.com). Compare and contrast the four. Can you see the difference? It’s amazing isn’t it? After all of these years, Google still wins. Why? It’s simpler to use.
The other search engine sites have tried to make their search boxes more accessible and easier to find (older versions were pathetic), but their web pages are still cluttered with articles and ads, etc. But when you look at Google, all you get is a clear, clean, uncluttered page with one thing dominating–a large search engine box with just a few words above it (web, images, video, news, maps, and more–and that’s basically it). Marissa Meyer and the team at Google have worked hard to keep the page clean. Why? Because they value simplicity. And does simplicity win? Absolutely, to the tune of $10.6 billion last year.
It’s the same reason why the iPod and iTunes rule the mp3 market. Why? Because they’re simpler to use. It’s also why most people buy point and click cameras vs. digital SLRs. Why? Because they’re simpler to use. It’s also why most people love the navigation system in the Infiniti G35 over the BMW 328i. Or why we prefer reaching a live person when we call a customer service center rather than a digital diagnostic "assistant". Why? Because as customers, most of us prefer simplicity over complexity. From my perspective, that is the major lesson we all ought to learn from Google (which in nine short years has gone from an idea to a $144 billion market cap–not bad in anybody’s book).
Now, does simplicity mean simplistic. Absolutely not. The back end of the Google search engine is incredibly complex. The back end of the iPod is incredibly complex. The back end of the point and click camera is incredibly complex. So simplicity isn’t about being simplistic. It’s about making life easy on customers. In a world dominated by complexity, most of us as customers long for a little simplicity. Which means that when we find a company that delivers what we want, at the level of excellence we desire, and in a way that is incredibly simple for us to use, they’ve got us for life (or at least until they screw up the relationship :-)
So, as you take a look at your company or organization or division or church or small business, are you easy to do business with? Better yet, go ask a statistically significant number of your customers that question. Review your products and services. Review your sales process. Review your customer service processes. Etc. And make whatever you’re doing more and more simple for the customer. Why? Because the simpler you make it for your customers, the more remarkable you’ll be–and the more money you’ll make. Isn’t that what Google has taught us?