SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: [Sigia-l] ROI/Value of Search Engine
RE: [Sigia-l] ROI/Value of Search Engine Design - Resources?
Date: Sun Feb 16 2003 - 13:08:39 EST
Clearly the question of what percent of users start by searching is a
proposition that needs testing. Ideally, it needs real, peer-reviewed
journal quality, uncoached user testing. Also, it should be possible to
combine Web server log analysis with search log analysis to come up with an
accurate ratio for a given site.
Are you assuming that between 1997 and 2003 the tendency to jump to the
search box has decreased? My suspicion is 180 degrees opposite. The most
important development in Web navigation since 1997 is Google. Google has
trained millions of people worldwide to think of the search box as a way to
find starting points.
In the absence of uncoached user testing, you can learn a lot from search
logs. For instance, go to:
Last year we reached a point where Google outstripped Yahoo in the number of
referrals to other Web sites worldwide. People who trust Google first
arrive at your Web site expecting to trust local search first.
It's silly to assume that there is one ratio of searchers to browsers for
all sites or for all purposes. If I go to Nytimes.com to read the news,
obviously I scan the headlines and click on the ones of interest. If I go
to the Times to find Thomas Friedman's last column, I always search. I
don't even try to figure out if he's under Columnists or whatever random
hierarchical label someone has chosen. I don't care if the Times has hired
the Leonardo da Vinci of information architects to design its navigation;
with a good search engine, it's faster to search.
If I'm looking to buy a Linksys WiFi router, I'm going to type that phrase
into the search box, whether I choose Amazon or PC Connection. The site
whose search engine gets me to the right item wins my business.
I object strenuously to the notion that clickable navigational elements are
part of information architecture and to be celebrated, and search is a
robotic straitjacket, to be deprecated. Search is part of your site's
information architecture. If "only" 20% of your customers start with
search, it's worth delivering the best search experience you can give them.
On Sun, 16 Feb 2003 09:39:41 -0800 (PST), "Eric Reiss" wrote:
> 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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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:36 EST