All posts about

Designing the structured search experience: Rethinking the query-builder paradigm

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

What happens when search engines become intelligent?

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)

A new era for search: The zero moment-of-truth is now defined by shared customer experiences

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)

Search is not enough: Synergy between navigation and search

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)

14 ways to improve the UX of on-site search results

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)

Insights into site search

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)

Findability is a content problem, not a search problem

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)

From the big screen to the little screen: The evolving relationship between TV and search

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)

What Can SEO Learn From UX?

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)