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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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"ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <[log in to unmask]>
"Nichols, Charlie" <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 25 Jan 1999 09:30:12 -0600
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"Nichols, Charlie" <[log in to unmask]>
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        This list is great!    I had one more thing to mention... after
building the best search and results you can for your site, not to be
obvious, but don't forget to keep improving it. Depending on the technology
that underlies your search tool, you should be able to track and rank the
actual terms users type into your engine! Talk about great user input!  We
have a automated tool (as part of MS Site Server Search) that dumps out the
queries to a page, the top queries are linked to the actual search, so you
can see what a user is actually receiving when they search for those
specific terms... Using this info, we can tag our content to give users the
best possible results for their search. For example, "drivers" may be the
most asked for a time period, we will tag our "drivers" info/download page
to make sure it rises to the top of the search results...
        This also should enable you to give custom results to specific
searches, like IBM's site... [] go and type in "as/400" ...
you'll get results tailored to that product... very kool.
        This is also good info to keep in mind as you strive to improve the
navigation of your site. If a significant amount of users are not finding
specific info through your navigation systems, and must go to search to find
it, perhaps you could think about making it more intuitive?    8-)

Example Query Logs:
Top Queries     Query Total     Queries Rank

downloads               112             1
specials                94              2
upgrades                84              3
monitor                         77              4
printers                        68              5
dvd                     66              6
memory          64              7
"product 1"             57              8
y2k                     54              9
shipping                51              10
bios                    48              11

Thanks all,

-----Original Message-----
From: Lou Rosenfeld [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Saturday, January 23, 1999 5:07 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: what to show on a search results page

There's been some great advice dispensed in this thread.  I hope that those
designing search systems will also consider the fact that not all searching
is alike.  Users frequently have different types of information needs.  For
example, some users search for information they know how to describe and
know exists in the site (maybe they've found it before).  Other users are
satisfied with just a few relevant results, while others want to perform
comprehensive research and wish to leave no stone unturned.  Sometimes users
aren't quite sure what they're looking for at all; the process of actually
searching exposes them to new information, and they learn more about what
exactly they were looking for and how to describe it through that process.

Search interfaces can be designed differently to address these needs.  For
example, an interface that supports research or exploration probably should
closely integrate both browsing and searching capabilities (e.g., display a
table of contents on a null results page).  This approach allows users to
jump back and forth from one mode to the other over multiple iterations,
mirroring how research and exploration might typically proceed.

The presentation of results similarly depends on what users really want out
of the search process.  Just as you might provide users with different
search interfaces, you might provide them with the option of selecting
different ways to present results, such as allowing them to change the way
that results are ordered or which attributes are presented for each item.

The challenge is that there are so many options to consider when designing a
search system that it can get really overwhelming really fast.  I guess the
best answer lies in knowing your users' information needs well enough (and,
ideally, in advance) to determine the most appropriate subset of possible

Louis Rosenfeld / [log in to unmask]
Argus Associates / / 734.913.0010
Information Architecture for the WWW /