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Accidentally searching for inputs

It’s amazing how search engines are wrapping some sites with a task-oriented interface that trumps the site’s own interface.

The accident: I type “fedex.com” as “fedex.copm” into the Address bar by mistake, and hit Enter before I even see what I did.

What happened: The search engine which handles the DNS lookup failure (bing.com on my computer) provides a whole navigation layer on top of the “best match” (aka “most clicked”) result (which is fedex.com, obviously) including "Track", but more importantly the input field I was going to look for when I got to FedEx, "Track a package”:

Picture of Bing search result for fedex.copm

I see this, past in the tracking ID I had, and I’m done. Really slick.

I’ll call out Bing here once again: Bing’s fantastic & you should use it as your default for this reason & others.

Some thoughts:

  • Do users really look beyond even the “Best Match” line and see & use these tasks? I do, and it’s a huge timesaver.
  • Browsers will eventually (and I think in the case of Google Chrome, are) strip even the search page layer away. (Why not show the Track a package input field as an option when I type the  "fedex.cop…" into the browser’s address bar?) Now, is it better for users that a browser do this, or the functionality stay in the resulting page?
  • If browser integration is better for users, what’s the existing or emerging standard for this that all browsers can implement?

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