SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: [Sigia-l] ROI/Value of Search Engine
RE: [Sigia-l] ROI/Value of Search Engine Design - Resources?
From: Jared M. Spool (jspool_at_uie.com)
Date: Mon Feb 17 2003 - 23:34:57 EST
>I could easily see the genre being a significant factor in a person's
>general approach to finding things. Likewise with a web site's
>design. Are you able to tease apart the effect of genre from the effect
>of design in your research?
>Does a person's mental model of something include assumptions or
>perceptions that lead them toward finding it in a particular way (search
Very astute! Excellent questions.
To answer the first question: When working with correlations (which is the
basis of our resource), it's very hard to separate the effect of genre from
the effect of design because sites within a genre tend to be designed very
similarly. For example, a site displaying medical information is far more
likely to have similar design features to the other sites displaying
medical information than sites displaying office supplies. Even within
e-commerce, sites displaying one type of product often share similar design
qualities to the other sites within that product genre.
Given that the design attributes travel with the genres, it's hard to say
that something is specifically the effect of the genre or the effect of the
attributes of the designs.
Having said that, let me address the second question:
At the IA Summit a few years back, I talked about a recent study we'd done
where we had collected the product descriptions for items users had shopped
for in our studies. We placed them on forms where we asked several hundred
survey respondents to tell us which major categories they'd expect to find
For example, one shopper had looked for 'Iguana Food'. We'd asked the
respondents to tell us where, on a pet supply site, they'd expect to find
'Iguana Food'. We didn't give them any description of the site or any
preliminary categories to start with -- just a blank box to write in
whatever category came to mind.
When we compared the answers, we found that for some categories of
products, such as apparel or pet supplies, the respondents were generally
in agreement as to where they'd find the products. In our 'Iguana Food'
example, 75% of respondents said either 'Reptile' (53%) or 'Food' (22%) as
the top-level category.
For other categories, such as computer accessories, there was no such
agreement. Users were all over the board as to where they would expect to
find the various products, often with no single category getting more than
We found that, in our user studies, the users were far less likely to use
Search for those genres where we saw lots of agreement in our survey. There
was a strong negative correlation between Search use in the user studies
and the agreement in the surveys.
Now, the best performing sites in the genres where we had strong agreement
happened to always use the same terms our users did. (The poor performing
sites often used marketing jargon like "lifestyles" or "jeanology" for
major categories -- terms users rarely understood.)
In the genres where we didn't have strong agreement, the sites that did the
best were those that had lots of categories on the home page, much like you
see on http://www.Staples.com today.
So, yes, we do see a combination of site design effect and the user's
knowledge of the genre playing a role in the strategy that users take.
Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
Don't miss User Interface 7 West, March 23-27, Burlingame, CA.
When replying, please *trim your post* as much as possible.
*Plain text, please; NO Attachments
ASIST IA 03 Summit: Making Connections
Searchable list archive: http://www.info-arch.org/lists/sigia-l/
Sigia-l mailing list -- post to: Sigia-l_at_asis.org
Changes to subscription: http://mail.asis.org/mailman/listinfo/sigia-l
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2
: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:55:36 EST