Should we expect more effort from our users?

30 Nov 2006 - 6:32pm
9 years ago
1 reply
860 reads
Brian Herzfeldt

With all the richness and sheer amount of data we can now provide for people
"searching" for things along with all kinds of great widgets to refine and
filter all that stuff to sift out what they actually want – how much should
we expect them to actually do? And when in terms of that process? Seems so
much pressure to allow a user to input a 1 or 2 word search term and expect
the system to return the perfect return in one interaction. That "people won't
go beyond one click to get what they want".

Wondering if this is in fact the case or are we short changing the user in
their willingness to engage in the experience.
For example:

We are examining 2 strategies for a business directory site with the usual
'enter a business name or category' or pick one from a canned list.

1. Refine at the Landing Page-Limit the Universe - Make the user do
more up front on the landing page to tell the system what they want before
they receive a set of results in the hope that the result set returned will
have what they want . . . hopefully first in the list. May not always work
and requires a lot from the system and taxonomy.
2. Always Give them the Universe- user can enter any term and the
system will return *everything* it has that's relevant. Then provide
useful and intuitive (hopefully) tools and taxonomies to find what they
want. Requires more cognitive effort from the user.

My gut is that as that users can be engaged more in the process as long as
the feedback from a user input is meaningful and is presented with intuitive
ways to filter or explore what they see with clear paths so the user knows
where they are and can back up and try different paths. Seems sites are
becoming more App-like and often demand a higher level of engagement to reap
more rewards. And that people can embrace that engagement. Thanks!


1 Dec 2006 - 5:15am

Technology is changing the way people think or act, when talking of web pages, people now input
two to three words, before they used to input just one, this shows a change on the way they
interact with search systems.

Even so, do not expect people to change too much, technology evolve far much faster than human
brain and so you should make it easy to use, do not expect the user to input more than two or
three words.

They will get that universe of results and there it is where you have to make it easier for them
to narrow down that universe, a clever and dynamic classification of, lets continue with the
example, businesses, classify those businesses in a way the final user expected it to be, you
should know your target audience better than any of us and so be able to know how your users want
those results, what their goals are.

In brief, expect users to modify behaviour but that will be very, very subtle, as I said,
technology evolve far more faster than human brain does. It also depends of your audience, are
they power users searching for a kind of business? That will change things.

Miguel Gonzalez.

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