[Image courtesy of pexels.com]

In our last two posts we’ve reviewed the use of models and metaphors in designing search, and explored one particular metaphor that was valuable for both its simplicity and utility. We’ve also reviewed the different ways in which navigational context may be propagated from one stage of the search journey to the next. In this post, we provide a generic framework for understanding how those transitions guide and shape the search experience with the aid of a simple but effective spreadsheet template.

Continue Reading »


Image by PublicCo via Pixabay [CC0 Creative Commons]

In our last post, we looked at the role of metaphors and models in search, and explored one particular metaphor that was valuable for both its simplicity and utility: the chess metaphor. This simple notion helps us frame and structure the search experience in a way that allows us to better understand the stages involved, and how they combine to form a coherent information journey.  In this post, we take a closer look the principles that govern how to propagate the user’s navigational context from one phase to the next, and how those transitions shape the search experience.

At this point you may be thinking: ‘But what navigational context is there, apart from keywords?’ Of course, for many simple (aka web) search experiences that’s all there is: a handful of keywords in the opening game that are then echoed in the middle game. But many professional search applications (such as those used by lawyers, scientists, information professionals, etc.) make a virtue of offering a relatively complex opening game in which the user is invited to articulate the full extent of their information need in the form of a complex, pre-coordinated query. In these cases, the full detail of that navigational context needs to be propagated to the middle game in a manner that makes its presence transparent and its effects easily editable.

Continue Reading »

IRSG logoJust in case you missed it, here are details of the latest issue of Informer, which came out last week. As usual, lots of good stuff, with a mix of conference reviews, news, events and lots of dates for your diary.  For further details see the Informer website. Or if you fancy becoming a contributor, get in touch!

Continue Reading »

By dbking (Chess Players in Dupont Circle) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s often said that search is a conversation: a dialog between two participants that can be every bit as rich as human conversation. On one side is the user, with an information need articulated in the form of a query, and on the other side is the system, with its response in the form of a set of search results. Like human conversation, the outcome relies on a shared understanding of intent and context. Together, these elements form a crucial part of the search experience, guiding and shaping the dialog in productive directions.

But the conversational metaphor can only take us so far. There are levels of nuance to the linguistic interaction between human beings that go beyond simple bidirectional exchanges, and likewise, there are patterns and sequences of human information seeking behavior that transcend the conversational metaphor. At this level, we need to take a more holistic approach, and view search from the perspective of stages in an information journey. In this post, we consider one such model of the information journey that is valuable for both its simplicity and utility.

Continue Reading »


On Wednesday last week I had the honour of co-chairing the 12th Search Solutions conference at BCS London in Covent Garden. As always, the event included presentations, panels and keynote talks by influential industry leaders on novel and emerging applications in search and information retrieval. And in keeping with last year’s event, we were delighted to be able to announce the winners of this year’s BCS Search Industry Awards. In a ceremony held at the close of Search Solution 2017, it was my honour to announce the winners for the following three categories:

Continue Reading »

As you may recall last month I announced the line-up for Search Solutions 2017, to be held at BCS London on November 29. I’m pleased to announce that this year we’ll also be offering a Tutorial Programme, which will run the preceding day (Tuesday 28th). The programme consists of three half day-tutorials:

  • 09:30-13:00 Designing Search (Dr. Tony Russell-Rose, UXLabs)
  • 14:00-17:30 Text Analysis with GATE (Diana Maynard, University of Sheffield)
  • 14:00-17:30 Searching the Linked Open Data Cloud (Epaminondas Kapetanios, University of Westminster )

My tutorial is fully booked now, but I’ve appended further details below in case you’re interested in attending a future presentation. Last year I attended Diana’s tutorial on GATE and can highly recommend it as an excellent introduction to the platform and NLP in general. This year I am looking forward to Epaminondas’s tutorial on linked open data – very timely and topical!

Full details of pricing and registration are available on the Search Solutions website. Note that the closing date for bookings is Sunday 26th November. Hope to see you there 🙂

Continue Reading »

I am looking for a front end / web developer for a 6-month contract (with possible extension) to work on an Innovate-UK funded project investigating graphical approaches to search strategy formulation. The aim of the project is to develop tools and techniques for search query formulation which can be integrated within a visual framework to deliver a more efficient and intuitive approach to professional search applications.


  • Proven working experience in web programming
  • Familiarity with popular JavaScript frameworks such as AngularJS
  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • Ideally experience of migrating existing desktop software applications to the web
  • Prepared to sign an NDA governed by English law.


  • Write well designed, testable, efficient code by using best software development practices
  • Create user interfaces by using standard Javascript/HTML/CSS practices
  • Integrate data from various back-end services and databases
  • Create and maintain software documentation
  • Maintain awareness of emerging technologies & trends and put them into operation

Salary DOE. Part time working possible. Remote working by negotiation, but candidates will need to attend weekly meetings in London. Further details on request. Principals only please – no subcontractors. Can you recommend anyone?

Continue Reading »