Thursday, February 21, 2008

The road to finding is paved with data: Web analytics and user experience

More on findability ...

"Here are three important parts of three familiar sites: Flickr's site navigation, Netflix's search interface, and IKEA's help center. (below)

Do they seem to have much in common? At first glance—probably not. Navigating to the recent comments on your Flickr photos is not the same thing as searching Netflix for every movie directed by Werner Herzog. Asking the nice IKEA robot lady for help choosing a dining table is something else altogether.

And if you scratched the surface, you might find people with very different skills responsible for each. Information architects, responsible for Flickr's structure, might own its navigation; computer scientists, who know the ins and out of relevance ranking algorithms, might manage Netflix's search engine; and the help center might be the purview of IKEA's customer service specialists, the people who are trained to answer difficult customer questions (or, perhaps, difficult customers' questions).

Browse + Search + Ask = Find

Browsing, searching, and asking may appear to be used as if they were discrete functions, but that's not really how our brains work when we seek information. One might search Netflix for those Herzog films and stumble on his recent release, Rescue Dawn, which stars Christian Bale—then change course and navigate over to Bale's entry and beyond to learn about his career. Or one might ask IKEA's Anna about when the new store in Red Hook will open; after she directs you to IKEA's "hooks & hangers" section a search is the likely next step.

Browsing, searching, and asking might all take place within a single attempt to find information. Finding routes are often quite circuitous, iterative, and surprising. There certainly are simple, straightforward instances of finding—say, looking up a colleague's phone number in a staff directory. But wandering through and learning about information—with pauses to search, browse, and ask along the way—is how many of us find information and learn about both the complex (for example, determining the most appropriate health plan our employer offers) and the seemingly simple (like choosing a plumber)."    (Continued via Adobe - Design Center, Lou Rosenfeld)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Browse Flickr - Ergonomics

Browse Flickr

Search Netflix - Ergonomics

Search Netflix

Ask Ikea's Anna - Ergonomics

Ask Ikea's Anna


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