Google – trying to be too clever

05Jun09

It’s one of those features that user experience engineers get very excited about – Google’s ability to figure out where in the world a browser is coming from and offer content up in the likely language of the reader. But this should not take precedence over personalisation. I don’t want my Google Reader in Hebrew or French just because I happen to be in Tel Aviv or Paris. When I sign in it’s me alright! I still speak (and read in) English. Google must know this – I usually use English, I usually browse from England, all of my search queries are in English, the emails that I send are in English, and the blogs I read are written in English. User experience #FAIL.

I realise that there’s a vanishingly small number of really smart people out there that speak many languages, and get their head into the local language when they’re abroad. They might like this ‘feature’, as it allows them to stay in role. For the rest of us though I think we need a better default behaviour – only try to guess language before signing in, once signed in use what I normally use.



3 Responses to “Google – trying to be too clever”

  1. This is typically American, how for example can you determine the language in Switzerland (where there are four official languages), French in Alsace may prefer German, Belgium is effectively split in two with their languages. I totally agree with you, I spent over an hour trying to access my Google Blogger in Hebrew while in Tel Aviv, it’s a real pain. While it’s perhaps clever to default into local majority languages Google really must respect user preference. The other annoyance I have is that the Google toolbar search in FireFox always defaults to Google.com which then re-directs to the local version. Search for something in Paris and your result come back on Google.fr, try it in the Virgin lounge in Heathrow and they come back in German as they use T-Mobile, extremely annoying. Now of course you can change the .de to .co.uk but why can’t I default to .co.uk in English (or one of the other 3 languages I speak) but at least my choice, not Google’s guess.

    -John-

  2. 2 Chris Swan

    I’m clearly not alone on this one – http://zakwilson.posterous.com/lay-off-the-geolocation-already

  3. I think this has become worse of late. It used to be that whether I visited google.com or google.co.uk I always got redirected to google.co.uk. Now it always seems to forget. All the new AJAXification they seem to have done over the last few weeks also confuses my browser (Firefox 3) no end. If I refine my search from the results page it’s a lottery as to whether it’ll actually “notice” and reload the page.
    Don’t get me started on the “bar at the right”. Doesn’t that go against all their UI analysis to date?


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