Usability expert Jakob Nielsen blogged about how difficult it is to perform a Google search:
If you thought it's easy to get to Google, think again. In our current round of usability research, only 76% of users who expressed a desire to run a Google search were successful. In other words, 1/4 of users who wanted to use Google couldn't do so. (Instead, they either completely failed to get to any search engine or ended up running their query on a different search engine — usually whatever type-in field happened to be at hand.)
I doubt that any Web designer would be incapable of running a Google search. So, the fact that 1/4 of users can't do it is a striking demonstration that you can't rely on your own experience if you want to reach a broader audience.
Surprised? Not so much. How many people grew up around computers? Most of us did not. You're still dealing with people who are adding "www" to their email address and are discovering that pages actually can scroll.
But not everyone prefers Google:
What shocked me last week at a barbershop is absolutely nobody there considered Google a good search engine. They all considered Yahoo and MSN the better search engines. There were about 15 people ranging in age from 25-75. People were vocal about Google. They were upset at seeing a lot of pages on Google where the keyword was only mentioned once on the web site. As I listened further these people were savvier than I thought. Many seemed to show a shift to other search engines based upon the roll-out of Universal Search. Most also seemed to like SEO. They felt even if the web site overused the keywords it was more prone to be about the subject. Also it seemed to be about branding and the fact that Bill Gates at least tried to help his fellow man.
Interesting. Do you think the findings are farfetched? Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.