Bing Adds Some ‘Ghosting’ To Autosuggest

    February 21, 2013
    Chris Crum

Bing announced that it has made a change to its Autosuggest feature, which it says makes the search experience faster by completing your query when they’re “confident” they “really know” what you’re looking for.

Bing refers to its latest development as “Autosuggest Ghosting”.

“Autosuggest algorithms are able to determine just how likely it is that you want the #1 suggestion with various degrees of confidence,” explains Dan Marantz, Senior Program Manager Lead, Bing Experiences and Query Formulation Team. “This confidence is highest in the two major patterns: Navigation and Search History. Ghosting is a way to pre-populate the query most likely to be used in the search box (blue selected-text style below) in an effort to speed up the time it takes to express your intent and get to your destination. This has seen to help users speed up by over 16%.”

“The design challenge was to focus on simplicity and intuitiveness. The interaction should feel natural and instinctive when you need it, and easy to work around when you don’t want it,” he says. “The simplest solution is to grey-in (or “ghost”) the high-confidence suggestive text and hope you notice. The problem then becomes – how do you accept the suggestion vs ignore it?”

Naturally, he takes a dig at Google.

“Google’s model complicates this by not being clear about what happens when you hit <enter> to submit the query,” he says. “Will the search be for ‘bed’ or ‘bed bath and beyond’? Turns out the query is only ‘bed’ and you need to press <tab> or <down> to select the full query.”

The Bing philosophy, he says, is not grounded in applying already-learned interaction models.

Users can press Enter to accept a suggestion, continue to type through it with something else, or press Delete/Backspace to remove the suggested text.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.