In Malcom Gladwell's book Blink, he examines how we make decisions in a split second, and how these intuitive decisions are often more valid than ones we labor over for months. While Gladwell's book examines how intuitive decisions are made in a number of situations, it's fascinating to apply his insights to how we search.

After asking thousands of people to think about they search (through all our research, we're probably closing in on 3000 now), only one thing has been consistent in our findings. People don't really know. In some cases, we think we know--but our interactions happen so quickly with the search results page and at such a subconscious level that we're often at a loss to explain how we chose the results we did. The fact is, the minute we ask people to slow down and start examining their search interaction, that interaction changes and we don't get a true picture.

When we interact online, we make decisions in split seconds. The rapid-fire assimilation of information and clicking on navigation options is aided by the fact that we can navigate the Web with relatively little risk. If we follow a false lead and end up on a site that doesn't offer what we're looking for, the back button is one click away. If only life came with a back button. Wouldn't it be nice to back out of our mistakes in real life as easily as we can online?

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