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ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)


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"Heinrich C. Kuhn" <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 13 Feb 1997 17:17:14 GMT+1
text/plain (69 lines)
Michael Levi wrote to CHI-WEB:

> A colleague and I have been having a sporadic disagreement concerning
> whether a keyword search of our Web site indicates a failure in the
> site's structure.  I would be interested in your insights.

No "insights" to offer. Just opinions and experience and opinons
drawn from experience and stuff like that ... .

> Other users click around for a while before starting a search.  This
> is where I feel we can draw some conclusions.
> My colleague disagrees.  He believes that the search mechanism is an
> independently valid and appropriate navigation strategy, and its use
> should be seen as such.
> Any comments?

I'm more on the side of your colleague, sorry [:-/].
Though not completely: To use knowledge about searching
beahviour to tailor hierarchical entries to infor-
mation is a good idea - in my view. Let me explain
the problem and the solution as seen from the basis
of the experiences with our site:

Our site has got several hierarchical entry-points
and "internetographies" and other stuff on various
subjects. Worked fine ... . At the start at least.
But now, as the number of 1000 entries has been
passed long ago, user-feedback says "there's almost
anything that we are interested in indexed at your
site, but it takes soooo much time to find it";
and my own experience says, user-feedback is right.
And new entries to our indices are inserted every week
... . No, the situation and user-friendlyness does *not*
improve ... . Just adding a "go for keywords you might
imagine and hope that the author of the text or the
indexer might have shared your imagination"-search-
engine would not help (at least not on the long run).
So we decided to go for a combination of several things:
- transforming most of our stuff from entries in more or
  less flat files to entries in a database
- hierarchies built on the fly according to search-entries
  by users
- a search-engine with quite a number of interfaces,
  hand-tailored to the various needs of various groups
  of users
- the possibility to combine searches in hierarchies with
  searches via keywords and classification codes
- and some add-ons ... .
We hope to have the new design up and working sometime this
summer ... .


Heinrich C. Kuhn
*  Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn   (coordinator libraries)
*  Max-Planck-Gesellschaft / Generalverwaltung IIb3
*  Postfach 10 10 62
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