The button has a goal to bring the user the first result for a search term (which a lot of SEOs aspire to), but I’m generally more interested in the 2nd through 7th results. I generally ignore the first. That’s just my personal browsing behavior and it’s usually pretty subconscious.
In fact, I must’ve used this functionality a total of five times ever since Google was created — even before I knew what it did.
Yet despite its infrequent use, Google won’t remove it. The article says:
In user studies, Google loyalists volunteer that “I’m Feeling Lucky” offers a touch of whimsy and reassurance that the company doesn’t take itself too seriously even after growing into a multibillion-dollar behemoth.
Maybe this is the case for the majority. And I realize that sometimes I have a smaller voice in the crowd. But the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button predates Google’s rise to fame and fortune, and I think that a change would be interesting and welcome.
I agree that “I’m Feeling Lucky” gives off an impression that Google is a fun company and is not completely serious in its approach to things. Perhaps that is what the quote really is alluding to. Therefore, I propose that Google change the button and not get rid of it completely.
As for what I’d suggest to replace such a button? I think this would be a perfect opportunity for Google to illustrate the rising popularity (and importance, if you will) of Web 2.0. Perhaps it could be some sort of digg/de.licio.us hybrid search from highly regarded blogs, giving the wide gamut of searchers an even wider variety of content to search within. This way, Google is not working alone but together with companies that are using social networking toward publicizing many websites, many of which may not be highly ranked on the SERPs (yet).
My feeling is that Google may have embraced the familiarity of its easy clean-cut homepage, but I think this familiarity could be enhanced without detracting from user experience. In fact, anyone looking to search for something may have discovered something new and innovative — and the blogging community reader base could possibly grow substantially from such an implementation.