a Search Interface
Saturday, 530 - 6:00
Designing a Search Interface
The most important connection an information architect
makes is the one between visitors to a site and the information they are trying
to find. One of the tools to make that connection is search, and all-too-often
the search user interface is designed by the search engine, not by someone who
understands what will actually help people find what they are searching for. This
presentation looks at the problem of designing a useful and usable search interface
by approaching it from the users point of view.
This work is
based on a series of usability tests of search behavior with general consumer
looking for health information on the web. This work was applied to a collection
of web sites and is the basis of a plan for making connections an information
architecture between the sites. I will be able to show screen shots of the sites
we designed, but also the many sites that usability test participants visited,
to show some of the problems we were trying to solve.
will define a simple model for the search process, looking at the design issues
at each stage, and the design guidelines that emerged from observing users. The
model and design guidelines can be generalized to any site (including smaller
sites) where the focus of the site is the informational content.
practical take-aways are guidelines and design patterns that the audience can
use immediately. The learning is an approach that can be applied to investigating
the users of their own sites, and a connection to some of the more formal research
in the field (such as a powerful affirmation of Bates berry picking theory
of information retrieval).
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