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I’m sure everyone is aware of the titanic battle between Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine, and Google. But I doubt the pundits give Bing any hope of pushing Google off their long occupied and solitary pedestal.

To get an idea of user preferences between the two search engine interfaces, Catalyst Group, a New York based usability research company brought the battle into the lab.

The Approach

  • 12 subjects were recruited who all used Google as their main search engine.
  • During the usability test, they were monitored with eye-tracking cameras.
  • Afterwards, they were interviewed and completed a survey.

Eye-Tracking results

  • All participants ignored Google’s navigation links along the top left of the page. (Web, Video, Images, etc.)
  • Half of the participants used the Explore Pane on the left side of Bing’s home and results pages.
  • Heat maps generated by the eye-tracking data, revealed people scrolling much further down Google’s search results pages.

Survey Results

  • After the test subjects were asked to rate the search engines on visual design, organization of features, filtering options and relevance of results, Bing handily beat Google in all these criteria except search results relevance, where it tied.
  • However, only 4 of the 12 said they preferred Bing overall. The other 8 said they preferred Google because they were used to it, or that Bing’s improvements were not enough to make them switch.

Catalyst CEO Nick Gould concludes that Microsoft “created something as good as Google and that is not good enough.” Overall, the test subjects “were not swayed.” No wonder Microsoft is spending up to $100 million on Bing marketing. With such a loyal mass of worshipers, it’s going to be difficult enough for Bing to scale the mountain before them, let alone dethrone the god of search engines.

View the complete study below:

Catalyst Group Bing V. Google Usability Study

Bradley Hebdon

Bradley Hebdon

Founder & Editor at UXbyDesign
Bradley is a User Experience Leader with over 15 years of interactive experience. He is currently employed as Director of UX at Slalom Consulting's Southern California office.
Bradley Hebdon


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Bradley Hebdon
Bradley Hebdon

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