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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: [Sigia-l] ROI/Value of Search Engine

RE: [Sigia-l] ROI/Value of Search Engine Design - Resources?

From: Eric Reiss (
Date: Sun Feb 16 2003 - 06:11:59 EST

Just for the record, the notion that 50% of all users head right for
the search button was put forth by Jakob Nielsen in his July 15, 1997
Alertbox column:

Jakob writes:
"Our usability studies show that more than half of all users are
search-dominant, about a fifth of the users are link-dominant, and
the rest exhibit mixed behavior. The search-dominant users will
usually go straight for the search button when they enter a website:
they are not interested in looking around the site; they are
task-focused and want to find specific information as fast as

However, like others on this list I, too, question the validity of
this 1997 notion in 2003. With regard to Jared's comment that people
who have to use search are more likely to fail to achieve their
goals, I think there is a simple explanation.

I routinely see users head for the search button AFTER they've tried
to find what they're looking for using the site's traditional
hierarchy. (Jared mentions that users hit search when they fail to
find the right trigger words on the page.)

More often than not one of two problems is present: the logical
structure of the site is a mess or the navigation is tough to
use/figure out. In other words, it seems to me that hitting the
search button signals other basic findability problems on the site.
Couple this with a certain degree of irritation/frustration on the
part of the user at this juncture and I'm not surprised the failure
rates are higher.

copenhagen, denmark

eric reiss
e-reiss aps
copenhagen, denmark
office: (+45) 39 29 67 77
mobile: (+45) 20 12 88 44
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