Ben Edelman has done another study: This time, he has taken names (100 each, from the following categories: top brand names, random brand names, Boston Yellow Page entries, and selective and random colleges and universities in the US), and investigated how successful (1) domain name guessing, (2) Google’s I’m feeling lucky button, (3) RealNames were as strategies to find the web sites in question. The objective of the study was to help to understand the extent to which DNS is already used as or already functions as a directory. I find the first part of this a bit misleading, by the way: The study can at most show how usable the DNS is as a directory. It cannot demonstrate whether users actually use it as one – to quantify that, you’d have to actually observe user behavior.
The study’s results: Google is best across all categories in matching Ben’s hypothetical user expectation. Ben further writes on the DNSO’s GA list: I first find that DNS is nearly as accurate as Google among a sample of the world’s largest brands. However, for smaller brands, smaller companies, and less selective educational institutions, DNS’s accuracy is substantially worse than Google’s. These results suggest that while DNS well serves the needs of the largest companies, it is less successful in providing intuitive naming services to small businesses and other smaller organizations.
William Walsh responded to Ben’s statement, and suggested that just because something CAN be used for some in a fashion, does not mean that it is, was, or should be intended to work that way, or that it should work that way for all people. Search engines and other directory services are the way to go for that.