Sixteen pairs of experienced computer users are asked to beta test your on-line product and each of them just stare at the screen until they are asked "what’s wrong?"

They reply almost in unison, "we’re waiting for the rest of it."

Would you have been discouraged by their almost unanimous response?

Kind of like the emperor, after being told by a child that he’s wearing no clothes?

In response, would you have been inclined to clutter up the user interface to provide "the rest of it"?

Or, would you recognize the power of simplicity and brevity?

With this kind of a slow start, would you ever expect to earn the label "the most successful company in the world"?

Thank goodness Marissa Mayer, employee #24, kept the lines clean, easy, and the screen bare.

If you’re tired of waiting for "the rest of the story," click to see the answer below the jump.

I was fascinated by this story in a television program re-run from last week, about Google’s wild success, and I thought I’d share it with you, in case you have missed it.

So, how much of Google’s success do you attribute to the simplicity and brevity of the home page?

UPDATE: For David Needle’s account on InternetNews.com from about three years ago, see here.

  • Not much. They were first into the minds of users with a great name and a product that worked. The spartan interface reinforces the brand’s singularity of purpose but the brand success story lies elsewhere.

  • 100% dummy proof, that surely helped with such a wide demographic

  • To Derricks point, it may have more to do with the brand’s reflection of the functionality of the home page and it’s mission vs. just an idea of “spartaness”.

  • I believe the simplicity reinforces it’s goal…to be the optimal search engine. Yahoo, in my opinion, tries to satisfy too much on one page (news, weather, email, gossip and then the ads)

  • Very interesting question… in fact I perfectly remember the first time I used Google. Two things shocked me:
    First, it’s simplicity, which I think was due to The strategic and crucial thing they understood first than anyone: in the future, search will be tag-based, not anymore category-based. i.e.: there’s no need for more than just an input text-box and a button.
    Second, the “I feel lucky” button. I think that was the first time a search engine made me smile, ever.
    I don’t think these two issues (the strategic view + the “smily & surprising” brand character) where “unplanned”. I think they knew very well what they were doing, and why :-)
    Greetings & Smiles!
    i