Patterns of behaviour, in any domain.
“Simple fact-finding tasks were less memorable, with basic user expectations like plain language. Complex research tasks required more effort; users asked for advanced features including comparison tables and chunked content for these tasks.”
Feifei Liu ~ NNG ★
In search we trust.
“Knowledge workers such as healthcare information professionals, legal researchers, and librarians need to create and execute search strategies that are comprehensive, transparent, and reproducible. The traditional solution is to use command-line query builders offered by proprietary database vendors. However, these are based on a paradigm that dates from the days when users could access databases only via text-based terminals and command-line syntax. In this paper, we present a new approach in which users express concepts as objects on a visual canvas and manipulate them to articulate relationships. This offers a more intuitive user experience (UX) that eliminates many sources of error, makes the query semantics more transparent, and offers new ways to collaborate, share, and optimize search strategies and best practices.”
Farhad Shokraneh a.k.a. /farhad-shokraneh ~ Weave: Journal of Library User Experience 3.1 ★
Based upon good old Xerox PARC research. A.k.a. exaptation by Gould and Vrba (1982).
“To decide whether to visit a page, people take into account how much relevant information they are likely to find on that page relative to the effort involved in extracting that info.”
Raluca Budiu a.k.a. /ralucabudiu | @rbudiu Nielsen Norman Group ★
Then they have to become smart.
“We’re talking on and on about making content more intelligent these days – format-agnostic, self-describing with semantic metadata, and modular – for reuse, for omnichannel, for delivering the right content to the right user, etc. But what about search engines themselves?”
(Noz Urbina a.k.a. @nozurbina ~ Urbina consulting) ★
Search and brand, the marketeers heaven. Find and experience, the designers heaven.
“Search is a natural step in the discovery process. In a web world, search engines offer a lens into a qualified and structured view to help online consumers focus and make informed decisions. With Google dominating search, marketers concentrated on improving search ranking through tried and true techniques to ensure that what they were marketing earned a coveted position in the likely search results a customer might consider clicking.”
(Brian Solis a.k.a. @briansolis)
New, well not really. Since S. R. Ranganathan (1892–1972) we know about facets, for classication, search and find.
“In this article, we’ll present some of the test findings on this usability issue along with 3 ways address it, including a new sorting method, Faceted Sorting, which is related to (but should not be confused with) Faceted Search or Faceted Search Filters.”
(Jamie Appleseed a.k.a. @jamieappleseed ~ Baymard Institute)
I would call it the difference between the algorithms and the synapses.
“When websites prioritize search over navigation, users must invest cognitive effort to create queries and to deal with the weak implementations of site search. (…) Site search is vital and can save the day for those users who have well defined goals and a good understanding of the information space in which they are searching. However, if you’re considering pushing search on your site at the expense of navigation, think again. Navigation serves important functions: it shows people what they can find on the site, and teaches them about the structure of the search space. Using the navigation categories is often faster and easier for users than generating a good search query. Plus, many times site search does not work well or requires users to have a good understanding of its limitations.”
(Raluca Budiu ~ Nielsen Norman Group)
Empty SERPs are pages with a purpose too.
“When users try a search and get no results, there’s a high risk of site abandonment. But paying attention to design details can turn this potential disaster into an opportunity for content discovery.”
(Kathryn Whitenton ~ Nielsen Norman Group)
Cards, tags and organizing, the Google way.
“The idea is that each card is a single atomic contextual piece of information; essentially, a suggestion, a prompt, a call to action.”
(Graham Hunter a.k.a. @MarketerGraham)
Like enterprise software applications, SERPs are the pages UX forgot.
“An effective site search tool is hugely important tool for ecommerce as it’s a common way for shoppers to navigate sites and find products. In fact up to 30% of visitors will use the site search tool and these tend to be highly motivated shoppers who know exactly what they’re looking for. The speed in which results are returned is very important, but there are also many other factors that influence the overall user experience and could be the difference between making a sale or losing a potential customer.”
(David Moth a.k.a. @DavidMoth ~ Econsultancy)
Search is less important than find and use. Engines are just level one.
“Search is evolving to fit the needs of users who don’t just want a web site, but the actual answer to the question driving the search. To stay on top semantic search technologies are key.”
(Charles Silver ~ GigaOm)
With optimal design, search goes down, browse goes up.
“This crossover presents a challenge for site search: how do we meet the advanced needs of professional users without confusing members of the public who just want a simple answer? We can’t rely on the page they searched from to define which type of user they are; some people expect to search only within that department, but others have landed in the wrong place and need to find the general results. One of our priorities for this project was to start making search better for advanced users, without getting in the way of less experienced users.”
(Tara Stockford a.k.a. @tarastockford ~ Government Digital Service)
Search, find, and use. But then the fun part starts: the information experience.
“Findability is a constant theme in content strategy and technical communications, yet it seems to me that people often treat findability as a problem existing outside the content. Findability is addressed using SEO tactics and by devising sophisticated top-down navigational aids, such as taxonomies and faceted navigation, but it is seldom seen as issue to be addressed in the content itself. I believe this focus on top-down findability is wrong. Top-down finding aids have their place, but the majority of the focus should be bottom up, and it should start with the content itself.”
(Mark Baker ~ Every page is one)
Search, the most undervalued digital conversation.
“Search is a conversation: a dialogue between user and system that can be every bit as rich as human conversation. Like human dialogue, it is bidirectional: on one side is the user with their information need, which they articulate as some form of query.”
(Tony Russell-Rose a.k.a. @tonygrr ~ UX magazine)
This space metaphor gets really to its limits.
“Most users are unable to solve even halfway complicated problems with search. Better to redirect their efforts into more supportive user interfaces when possible.”
(Jakob Nielsen ~ NNGroup)
Always pleasantly surprised when digital connects previously disparate disciplines and practices. Now, it’s television et al. and the search, find, and use trinity.
“As a digital analyst, it’s my job to study how technology disrupts business markets and models. As an aspiring social scientist, I also study technology’s impact on culture and behavior. These two worlds are colliding with increasing velocity as each day passes. One of the trends I’ve been following over the last several years is the relationship between TV, smartphones, tablets and PCs.”
(Brian Solis a.k.a. @brainsolis)
Or what algorithms can learn from heuristics.
“User Experience plays an early, fundamental role in guiding basic decisions that shape websites and digital products, and is increasingly afforded a seat at the table, so to speak. The reason UX is such a juggernaut is because of the multiple disciplines it encompasses—design, information architecture, usability engineering, interface design, content strategy, and research. In spite of its relative youth, UX as a discipline has grown exponentially in stature over the last few years.”
(Jessica Greco a.k.a. @grecasaurus ~ iAcquire)
All the meta nodes in the conceptual layer explained.
Notes from Seth Earley’s Confab Workshop ~ “(…) your table of contents, which somewhat expresses the hierarchy, order, and relationships within your information, helps the reader understand at a glance the whole of the information. Even if the user doesn’t navigate his or her way through this sometimes maze-like TOC structure, not having the table of contents at all makes users uneasy. If you replace that table of contents with another sort of organization, something that doesn’t express the semantic relationships of the information components, your users may feel lost.”
(Tom Johnson ~ I’d Rather Be Writing)
The other is the most significant subject in your professional live.
“When we interact with web and intranet teams, we find many struggling to move beyond conceptual-level discussions on information organization. Hours on end are spent on discussing the meaning of “metadata”, “controlled vocabulary” and “taxonomy” without any strategic understanding of how everything fits together. Being so bogged down at this level they fail to look beyond to the main reason for their pursuit—organizing information for others (the end users) so that they can find the information easily.”
(Maish Nichani a.k.a. @maish ~ PebbleRoad)
Tagging content, references or other BLOBs systematically is not for everybody an easy task. Most are just lazy.
“Although I’ve explored different strategies for findability, it seems that faceted classification through the attachment of metadata (such as tags) to resources remains the most compelling strategy. It can suit a diversity of audiences, purposes, and needs.”
(Thom Johnson a.k.a. @tomjohnson ~ I’d Rather Be Writing)