Bad IA, bad vibes

Question: Why do I have such little faith in the average Web site that I need to rely on Google to find simple search results?

Just installed BBEdit 6.5.2 on my Macintosh at work. On first run, I received a warning message that I needed CarbonLib 1.4 or later to run the latest BBEdit. (Why this is so, and what CarbonLib is, are issues I am unable to answer, but I digress.)

So I went to Google. Not Apple’s Web site, but Google. And it was a cinch.

Question: Why do I have such little faith in the average Web site that I need to rely on Google to find simple search results?

Google makes it so easy. In order:

1. On google.com, search for “carbonlib 1.4.” The top search result was for Apple’s CarbonLib 1.5 update.

2. Click through to Apple’s site, download, and done.

I hadn’t even tried Apple’s site when I Googled my query, because I figured Google would do it right. Indeed, they did, and Apple made a mess of things. Here is how apple.com handled the same scenario:

1. “Carbonlib 1.4” search results page shows listings for Age of Empires II, DeBabelizer Pro 5, Black White, Championship Manager, CronniX, Liquid Ledger 1.0.1, Sockho Stock Watcher, Loan Calc X, QuickMovie 1.4, Photo to Web.

2. Fresh search for “carbonlib 1.4 update.” Similar results.

3. Fresh search for “carbonlib 1.4 system,” playing off the Mac’s system folder requirements. (Remember, I don’t know what CarbonLib is.) Nothing.

4. Click on Support tab.

5. Click on Downloads tab within Support. This was a lucky discovery; I was ready to search support for CarbonLib, which I suspect wouldn’t have given me the right leads.

6. Search for “carbonlib 1.4” in Apple’s “search for downloads” box. Results: No documents were found.

7. Change “search type” on the dead results page from “software downloads” to “smart search” and try again. First result is an AppleWorks troubleshooting document that mentions installing CarbonLib 1.4, so I click on its link.

8. On that page is a link to “install CarbonLib 1.4 or later.” Clicked on that link.

9. Busted link. Search interrupted.

10. I give up.

Let’s review. A third-party search engine outperforms the site offering the download to the extent that I would sooner go to the third party than the source, even though I know exactly what I need and from where I have to get it. Why is this so?

This is a terrible state of affairs for the user. Google is revered because it does such a good job, which is great. But how come Google can find me a Web page on Apple’s site easier and more smoothly than Apple can? How often does this have to occur before Apple, and similar consumer sites, begin to suffer as a result?