Google isn’t always the greatest

“Where Yahoo Leaves Google in the Dust” By Randall Stross (New York Times, 22 August 2009). While the Google hype machine would like you to believe otherwise, Google is not perfect. Yes, they are a damn good advertising machine but there are plenty examples of failed Google projects that were eventually sacked. If fact, that’s Google’s M.O. — if a project takes off they continue to refine it  but if it doesn’t they cut their losses and move on. They don’t waste resources on ideas that fail to gain traction in the market. For some there’s a possible lesson here. I digress.

When it comes to having a successful web site it is essential to embrace the value of a great UX (user expereince), or as we at AU like to say, the all inclusive Guest Experience.

Yahoo understands that information about money — a user’s own money — presents some tricky psychological issues. James Pitaro, vice president of Yahoo’s audience group, said, “In our research with users, we found that the more information that was displayed on the page, the greater the anxiety.”

Put another way, it’s not what you say, it’s what they hear. Say too much and you run that risk that nothing will be heard. No doubt you are passionate about your business.  That you want your guest to know everything about your brand and you want them to know know it all the second they meet you (i.e., visit your web site, see your ad, etc.). That’s just not practical. That’s not the way relationships work. There is a pace and rhythm to The Guest Experience and often TMI (too much information) is not part of The Guests’ expectations.

The other lesson here is that Goliath can be beat, but you have to choose your battles. You have to be willing to suspend your subjective passions for a moment. Stop, step back and be objective about what is going to maximize the Guest Experience that your brand offers. Ultimately, it is your guests who will beat Goliath, not you. Think about it…

Finally while we’re on the subject of Yahoo vs Google there is another place where Yahoo slays Google — email. Yahoo offer unlimited storage while Google is currently capped at 6 or 7 gigs. Fair enough, 6 gigs is still a lot of email but it’s not as much as unlimited. Regardless, Yahoo’s UX is much stronger (and almost a desktop experience). For example, you can drag and drop emails from one folder to another. You can even drag an email onto your Contacts folder and Yahoo will prompt you to add that person’s email address and other details to your contact lists. Simple, clean and easy.

One often overlooked bomus is that both Yahoo and Google allow you to check your other email accounts (commonly known as POP3 accounts) via their interface. So rather than have to use (for example) Verizon’s crap web mail you can use Yahoo (or Google) instead, much like you might have used Outlook to check multiple accounts. This is also handy when you’re transitioning from one email address to another. You can have your email come in via the old address and then send out via the new one, all via a single interface. Yahoo mail is also slickly integrated into MyYahoo!. MyYahoo! is great for setting up pages of RSS feeds but that’s another lesson for another day.

Btw, the Yahoo calendar is great too. You can even set up reminders to be sent to your cell phone via text message. Remembering important dates and appointments has never been easier.

The bottom line… If you have more than one email address or are looking to make your life – both online and off –  easier, AU proudly dismisses the Google hype and highly recommends Yahoo email and MyYahoo.  Check it out, it’s time well spent.

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5 comments to Google isn’t always the greatest

  • I’ve yet to read the article you mention, but regarding your yahoo vs. gmail arguments:

    1. Gmail has drag and drop also. Though not the “add to contacts” one.

    2. Until Yahoo gets “undo send,” filters, custom keyboard short-cuts, IMAP support (yes, I can send email from my crappy work email server), SMS in chat, and looks prettier, I ain’t going nowhere. Filters especially comes in handy.

    3. Maybe Yahoo has some of these, I don’t know, but the only things I see in this post that Yahoo has against Gmail is sms alerts in the calendar and drag and drop to contacts. Space isn’t an issue yet. I’ve been using gmail for 4 years now and i’m only using 4% of my space. (Of course this may just be a reflection of my popularity). So far though, I haven’t felt the agony of not having the missing Yahoo! features.

    4. Gmail is prettier than Yahoo! Period.

  • Gmail also has a feature called super stars. You can flag an email with a number of different “stars.” Check it: http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2008/07/gmail-superstars.html

  • And another thing! Gmail has an “add to tasks” button under the “more actions” tab. I probably couldn’t live without this. A new task is added with a link to the related email.

  • Chief Alchemist

    @ Paul – Thanks, those are all good points and I’ll have to do some further investigation. Maybe there’s a way to use an older version of Gmail and that’s what I saw in terms of what I believed to be the lack of drag and drop?

    None the less, allow me to clarify a couple things:

    1) Personally, I don’t trust Google. Anyone who as to tell me they’re not evil sounds suspect to me to begin with. And Google does have a track record of Big Brother-esque actions.

    2) What really bothers me is the hype and lack of balanced reporting. For example, a few months ago I read an article about the editor of a magazine finally giving up on client based email and going to browser based. One of his big points was the 6gb of storage – never mentioning Yahoo was unlimited. Ok, that’s not Google’s fault but it still leads to the preception that Google is the only viable choice.

    Finally, as a matter of fact, Zoho.com has gotten my attention. I just need to make the time to do the investigation. Therefore, Google will have to wait :)

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