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Posts Tagged ‘search modes’

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting the keynote talk at the Supporting Discovery of Archival Collections: Challenges and Opportunities workshop, held at Wellcome Trust in London. The day was a thoroughly enjoyable mix of presentations and discussions and I learned a great deal. Many thanks to Paul Clough and his fellow organizers Paula Goodale (Sheffield University), Chris Hilton (Wellcome Trust), Sarah Higgins (Aberystwyth University) and Pauline Rafferty (Aberystwyth University). There are plans to produce a paper summarising the workshop findings which I very much look forward to seeing. In the meantime, the slides from my own talk are appended below, titled “Designing the Search Experience: The Language of Discovery”.

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Here’s a sample of some of the things we’re working on at UXLabs this year, neatly packaged into Masters level ‘internships’. I use quotes there as it’s a convenient term used by many of my academic colleagues, but these opportunities are (a) unpaid and (b) remote (i.e. hosted by your own institution). So perhaps ‘co-supervised MSc projects initiated by a commercial partner’ is more accurate term… Anyway, what we offer is support, expertise, supervision and access to real world data/challenges. If you are interested in working with us on the challenges below, get in touch. (more…)

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Here’s a sample of some of the things we’re working on at UXLabs this year, neatly packaged into Masters level ‘internships’. I use quotes there as although it’s a convenient term used by many of my academic colleagues, these opportunities are (a) unpaid and (b) remote (i.e. hosted by your own institution). So maybe ‘co-supervised MSc projects initiated by a commercial partner’ is more accurate term… Anyway, what we offer is support, expertise, co-supervision and access to real world data/challenges. If you are interested in working with us on the challenges below, get in touch. (more…)

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Fig. 2. Mode network for enterprise search

Around this time last year I gave a talk at AMR 2012 on the topic of Understanding and Designing for Consumer Search Behaviour. Since then I’ve been working with colleagues Joe Lamantia and Stephann Makri on an overview paper that summarises the work and illustrates its application to a well-known social media platform. I’m pleased to say that this paper is now finally available as an extended blog post (below) and as a rather more convenient pdf. As always, comments & feedback welcome 🙂

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ink blot

Folks who follow this blog will know that I try to strike a balance between topical, practitioner-oriented pieces and more academic articles such as scientific papers & other peer-reviewed content. I’m not always successful, but firmly believe that the most valuable use of this channel is to provide practical insights backed up by a solid theoretical basis wherever possible. Of course, it’s not an easy line to tread… get the balance wrong and you can end up with worthy but dull academic pieces that extend only marginally beyond the bounds of a narrow research community. Or conversely, anecdotal experiences that have little chance of delivering insights that generalise to other contexts and individuals.

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mobile paginationOne of the key insights to emerge from research into human information seeking is that search is more than just finding: in fact, search tasks of any complexity involve iteration across a number of levels of task context. From information retrieval at the lowest level to work task at the highest, searchers engage in a whole host of activities or search modes in the pursuit of their goals.

Of course, locating known items may be the stereotypical search task with which we are all familiar – but it is far from being the only one. Instead, for many search tasks we need to analyse, compare, verify, evaluate, synthesize… in short, we need to manipulate and interact with the results. While the previous post focused on informational features, our concern here is with interactivity. In this post, we consider techniques for managing and interacting with search results.

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designing-the-search-experience_large

I’m guessing that by now most people may have seen this, but just in case – and for the record – here is the official announcement of the publication of Designing the Search Experience: the Information Architecture of Discovery. It’s the product of almost two years effort by Tyler and me, so we’re both relieved and elated to finally see it in print.

I’ve appended a brief summary below. If you’d like to see more – including a free sample chapter – check out the book website. If you’re interested in reviewing it, drop me a line.

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A short while ago I posted the slides to my talk at HCIR 2012 on Designing for Consumer Search Behaviour. Finally, as promised, here is the associated paper, which is co-authored with Stephann Makri (and is available as a pdf in the proceedings). This paper takes the ideas and concepts introduced in A Model of Consumer Search Behaviour and explores their practical design implications. As always, comments and feedback welcome 🙂

ABSTRACT

In order to design better search experiences, we need to understand the complexities of human information-seeking behaviour. In this paper, we propose a model of information behavior based on the needs of users of consumer-oriented websites and search applications. The model consists of a set of search modes users employ to satisfy their information search and discovery goals. We present design suggestions for how each of these modes can be supported in existing interactive systems, focusing in particular on those that have been supported in interesting or novel ways.

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Here are the slides from the talk I gave recently at HCIR 2012 on Designing for Consumer Search Behaviour. This presentation is the counterpart to the previous one: while A Model of Consumer Search Behaviour introduced the model and described the analytic work that led to it, this talk looks at the practical design implications. In particular, it addresses the observation that although the information retrieval community is blessed with an abundance of analytic models, only a tiny fraction of these make any impression at all on mainstream UX design practice.

Why is this? In part, this may be simply a reflection of imperfect channels of communication between the respective communities. However, I suspect it may also be a by-product of the way researchers are incentivized: with career progression based almost exclusively on citations in peer-reviewed academic journals, it is hard to see what motivation may be left to encourage adoption by other communities such as design practitioners. Yet from a wider perspective, it is precisely this cross-fertilisation that can make the difference between an idea gathering the dust of citations within a closed community and actually having an impact on the mainstream search experiences that we as consumers all encounter.

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A couple of weeks ago I posted the slides to my talk at EuroHCIR on A Model of Consumer Search Behaviour. Finally, as promised, here is the associated paper, which is co-authored with Stephann Makri (and also available as a pdf in the proceedings). I hope it addresses the questions that the slide deck provoked, and provides further food for thought 🙂

ABSTRACT

In order to design better search experiences, we need to understand the complexities of human information-seeking behaviour. In previous work [13], we proposed a model of information behavior based on an analysis of the information needs of knowledge workers within an enterprise search context. In this paper, we extend this work to the site search context, examining the needs and behaviours of users of consumer-oriented websites and search applications.

We found that site search users presented significantly different information needs to those of enterprise search, implying some key differences in the information behaviours required to satisfy those needs. In particular, the site search users focused more on simple “lookup” activities, contrasting with the more complex, problem-solving behaviours associated with enterprise search. We also found repeating patterns or ‘chains’ of search behaviour in the site search context, but in contrast to the previous study these were shorter and less complex. These patterns can be used as a framework for understanding information seeking behaviour that can be adopted by other researchers who want to take a ‘needs first’ approach to understanding information behaviour.

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