Google brings doomscrolling experience to mobile Search results - The UpStream

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Google brings doomscrolling experience to mobile Search results

posted Monday Oct 18, 2021 by Scott Ertz

Google brings doomscrolling experience to mobile Search results

While the backend infrastructure of Google Search has changed significantly over the years, and even since yesterday, the frontend experience has remained relatively stable. The addition of Mobile Search is possibly the only major change that has happened in most people's memories. New experiences are added to the Search results, but the actual behavior stays the same. But, Google is about to unleash a new capability to Mobile Search: doomscrolling.

Doomscrolling is the end result of continuous scrolling on mobile devices. Some of the best examples of this lie in social media: you never see the end of the content. As you continue to scroll down, the app loads more items and continues to maintain your interest in what is happening. In most apps, this continuous scrolling turns into an obsession with feeling like there is more to come, producing a fear of missing out (FOMO). That is the experience that is coming to Mobile Search from Google.

As it stands now, the first page of results is the place you want to be. That is because hitting the "next page" button requires a reload, which means a wait time. Most people will give up or change their search terms if they don't find what they are looking for. Now, there is no way to really know how far into the search results you are, and whether or not the results are about to veer off into nonsense land. This could also produce the FOMO issue we see in other services, preventing people from actually leaving the search results for fear of there being a better result further down the list.

Of course, on the other side of the coin, the behavior could be significantly more beneficial. The reason people skip page 2 is because of the pagination of the results. Oftentimes, the second page has results that are more relevant, but less useful to Google's bottom line. For smaller pages, such as our own, the continuous scrolling feature could actually prove to be a benefit. That means it could provide a benefit to readers who will be exposed to brands and ideas that are different from the big players in the industry.

Most importantly here is that the redesign will bring the new Google Search in line with the way that younger users expect technology to work. Most young people have only experienced the days of soft pagination, supported by lazy loading data behind their backs in order to keep them engaged. Hard pagination, like older internet users are used to, makes Google Search feel like an internet dinosaur, which is not ideal for the company's brand.

This feature is supposed to be rolling out now, though our devices are all still showing the "Show more" button across brands and versions. Let us know if you've received the new UI and whether it makes the search experience better or worse.


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