Originally Posted by Mike L
I've always believed that the reason for Alta Vista's demise was that their search page was over-crowded with images, headlines, thumbnails, and other distractions, including a fair number of adverts. When Google came along, users instantly took a liking to its clean, uncluttered search page, so much so that it soon knocked Alta Vista from its spot at the top of the search engines.
I actually heard Marissa Mayer speak about this years ago. She said that when they first did user testing on the Google home page, people sat on front of the page for a long time and didn't click on anything. Finally the testing moderator had to say, "what are you looking at? are you waiting for something?" and the user would say, "I'm waiting for the page to finish loading." The design was so clean relative to everything else out there at the time, users thought it was unfinished.