Posts Tagged ‘Facets’

Here are the slides from the talk I gave at UX Brighton a week or so ago, as part of the Designing the Search Experience meeting. Some of the builds don’t come out quite right on Slideshare, but I can always make the ppt available if people want to see the original. I’m hoping to present an update on the “Modes of Discovery” material at the forthcoming Designing Effective Search and Discovery Experiences tutorial in April.

Title: From Search to Discovery

Abstract: The landscape of the search industry is undergoing fundamental change. In particular, there is a growing realisation that the true value of search is best realised by embedding it a wider discovery context, so that in addition to facilitating basic lookup tasks such as known-item search and fact retrieval, support is also provided for more complex exploratory tasks such as comparison, aggregation, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, and so on. Clearly, for these sorts of activity a much richer kind of interaction or dialogue between system and end user is required. This talk examines what forms this interactivity might take and discusses a number of principles and approaches for designing effective search and discovery experiences.

Related Posts:

  1. Reflections on Faceted Search and Beyond
  2. Tutorial on Designing the Search Experience
  3. The Dimensions of Search User Experience
  4. Design Patterns for Spatial Information Visualisation and Analytics Applications
  5. Is search behaviour becoming more sophisticated?

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ECIR 2011

Here’s a quick shout out that on April 18 Endeca colleague Mark Burrell and I will be presenting a tutorial on Designing Effective Search User Experiences at ECIR 2011 in Dublin. For those unfamiliar with ECIR it is the premier European conference on Information Retrieval, possibly second only to SIGIR in academic standing and reputation. This is just one of a whole package of tutorials running that day – register for this one in the morning and you can attend a further one in the afternoon all for a very reasonable fee. Further details appended below. To register, simply go to the ECIR 2011 site.

Designing Effective Search & Discovery Experiences


This half-day tutorial provides a practical introduction to Human Centred Design for information search, access and discovery. We present a concise overview of the fundamental principles of search experience design and show how to apply these to a variety of practical problems. A key element of the tutorial is the opportunity to practice these skills in a group exercise.

Our aim is to deliver a learning experience grounded in good scholarship, integrating the latest and most significant research findings with insights derived from practical experience of designing and evaluating search and discovery applications; delivered in a manner that focuses on transferable, practical skills that can be learnt and practiced within a half day session. In this tutorial participants will learn:

  • The fundamental concepts and principles of Design for Discovery
  • How to differentiate between various types of search behavior: known-item, exploratory, etc.
  • Models of human information-seeking behavior, and how to apply interaction design principles based on those models
  • An understanding of the key variables of user type, goal and mode of interaction, and how to apply these variables when designing for different user contexts
  • The role of design patterns, and how to apply UI design patterns from Endeca and those of other pattern libraries in designing search user interfaces
  • An awareness of the key design resources available within the HCIR community and how to apply these to practical design challenges

Course Content

The course comprises the following sections:

  • Introductions and objectives: Group introductions & Ice-breaker. A brief summary of what each participant hopes to gain from the session, and what experiences they bring.
  • Understanding Search & Discovery Behavior: An overview of the key theories and models of human-information seeking behavior, focusing on the work of Marcionini, Bates, Ingwersen, and the later works of Hearst, Morville, Tunkelang et al.
  • Faceted Classification & Search: A review of Rangathan’s seminal work on Colon Classification and its roots in Aristotelian teaching, and an exploration the implications for the design of contemporary faceted classification and search paradigms.
  • Design for Discovery: Varied Solutions for Varied Contexts: An exploration of the universal dimensions that define search and discovery contexts, and how these translate into principles for the design of effective search and discovery experiences.
  • The Endeca UI Design Pattern Library: A detailed examination of best practices in search experience design, embodied as design patterns in the Endeca UI Design Pattern Library. Exploration of the role of patterns in user experience design and comparative analysis of pattern libraries in general.
  • Practical Exercise: An opportunity to practice all the above skills in a group exercise. We will complement these with a practical review of best practices in search experience design and apply these to a real-world scenario.
  • Conclusions & Wrap-up: A review of the overall session, including the shared experiences of the group exercises and the contrasting findings of each. A summary of the follow-on resources and take-aways from the course and the wider HCIR (Human-computer information retrieval) community.

The fields of human computer interaction and information retrieval have both developed innovative techniques to address the challenge of navigating complex information spaces, but their insights have to date often failed to cross disciplinary borders. This tutorial acknowledges and builds on the momentum of recent collaborations (such as the HCIR conference series) to deliver a concise and practical guide to User Experience Design for information search, access and discovery.

Intended Audience

This tutorial is aimed at those who have an understanding of the basic principles of user centred design, or alternatively, some experience of having tackled UI design problems for search & information access applications. As such it should appeal to user experience professionals, information architects, information retrieval researchers and IR practitioners or anyone interested in the designing more effective user experiences for search and information discovery.


Related Posts:

  1. Design Patterns for Spatial Information Visualisation and Analytics Applications
  2. The Dimensions of Search User Experience
  3. User Interface Design Patterns for Search & Information Discovery
  4. The Changing Face of Search
  5. Search at the Guardian Newspaper

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Earlier this week we added another four patterns and two topic pages to the growing collection in the Endeca UI Design Pattern Library. In this post, I’ll provide a bit of background to these additions and outline the ways in which we had to extend the conceptual framework of the library itself to accommodate this new material.

First, the patterns themselves. This new set consists of three patterns focused on spatial information visualisation and one on design principles for analytic applications:

  1. Point Location Maps help users perceive spatial patterns in record location, identify specific records for further investigation or action, and explore relationships between particular facets and record locations within a broader spatial area.  For example:
    • Where are our top performing agents located?
  2. Region Maps help users perceive spatial patterns in record distribution, understand how those patterns relate to pre-defined boundaries and regions, and explore relationships between particular facets and aggregate distributions across a broader spatial area. For example:
    • In which states are our sales above average?
  3. Heat Maps help users perceive areas of greater or lesser record density, examine degrees of variation based on spatial factors, and explore relationships between particular facets and aggregate patterns of density across a broader spatial area. For example:
    • Where are the most intense areas of traffic congestion within the city?
  4. Analytics Applications summarize important metrics and trends and aggregate key quantitative and qualitative information sources, providing visibility and information scent through faceted visualizations (e.g., dynamic charts, graphs, etc.), metrics tables, refinements and other analytic summaries.

    But one of the most interesting issues behind these patterns is the changes required to the library itself in order to make this new material navigable and searchable. As you may have noticed, patterns are currently categorised using three primary facets: Industry, Topic, and Usage. It is the latter two I wish to focus on in this post.

    Let’s start with Topics. This facet originally had six values:

    1. Faceted Navigation
    2. Promotional Spotlighting
    3. Results Display
    4. Results manipulation
    5. Search
    6. Signposting

    This set of facets reflected the original scope of the library and in some ways also surfaced our own world-view of the conceptual landscape of information search and discovery. But now, with an increasing focus on analytics and Agile BI, we’ve extended that framework to accommodate the new topics of Spatial Visualization and Faceted Analytics.

    Now let’s consider Usage. The aim of this facet is to represent the purposes to which we expect each pattern to be applied, and in that respect it closely mirrors the Modes of Interaction we discussed in an earlier post. Originally, this facet was assigned the following eight values:

    1. Analyzing
    2. Comparing
    3. Evaluating
    4. Exploring
    5. Locating
    6. Refining
    7. Sharing
    8. Validating

    However, defining such a taxonomy (even one as modest as this) is not an exact science – categorisation schemes reflect a subjective view of the world, and in that respect, who is to say this view is any more authentic or valuable than anyone else’s? Even well-known academic frameworks such as the search activities defined by Gary Machinioni reflect some degree of subjectivity in the interpretation of the research evidence:

    Three Kinds of Search Activities


    That said, some immediate shortcomings of the original taxonomy were becoming apparent. Well-chosen facets should induce high entropy in the result set (e.g. through being consistent, orthogonal, exhaustively applied, etc.), and in that respect two of the values just didn’t seem appropriate:

    • Refining” was too low-level and task-focused, lacking the goal-directed nature of the others
    • Sharing” was too generic (applicable to almost any discovery scenario), and seemed to apply to a different level of the discovery process

    This conclusion was coupled with the observation that our own research had identified usages that didn’t fall into any of the above categories, such as:

    • Monitoring”, i.e. maintaining awareness of the status of an item or data set for purposes of management or control, e.g. “I need to monitor failing customers/dealers so I can prompt my Account Reps to fix the problems”
    • Synthesizing”, i.e. generating or communicating insight by integrating diverse inputs to create a novel artefact or composite view, e.g. “I need to prepare a weekly report for my boss of how things are going

    So applying these modifications, along with the extensions to the Topics, we see the complete set of facets that we see on the UIDPL site today.

    As mentioned above, no categorisation scheme is ever perfect, and they all to some degree reflect a subjective world view. And no doubt these facets will evolve further as our collective understanding of human information-seeking behaviour develops.  Instead, the real measure of their value is the extent to which they facilitate practical goals and tasks. So if you find them meaningful and valuable in using the pattern library, then they have fulfilled their purpose. If you think they could be improved, we’d love to know.

    Related Posts:

    1. The Dimensions of Search User Experience
    2. User Interface Design Patterns for Search & Information Discovery
    3. The Changing Face of Search
    4. Search Solutions 2010: Highlights & Reflections
    5. Search at the Guardian Newspaper

    Read Full Post »

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