"Browse engine" vs. Search engine?

5 Jan 2007 - 10:21am
9 years ago
3 replies
1746 reads

Keyword search is lousy when you're exploring an entire category.
Faceted navigation is pretty nice -- when it exists for the data
you're interested in. Finding items when you need to express a few
different requirements at the same time is... well, a disaster. We
need better tools for browsing and comparing.

Can anyone point to examples of sites or applications that you feel
do a good job at supporting this type of behavior? Got any thoughts
on what would characterize a search/browse engine of this sort? I
have two off the top of my head:

- the ability to express several different requirements at once - at
the level of meta-data, not keywords.
- the ability to explore and compare "what-if" scenarios.

Here's the story-behind-the-story that drove me to ask this question.
And yeah, I'm pretty frustrated at the moment. <reaches for black

I want to sign up my three kids for swimming lessons, which I can do
online. There are many dozens of classes offered, at different times
and at different local pools. It's impossible to express what I'm
looking for and then perform a search on those criteria; instead,
what's offered is a typical keyword search. This doesn't help when I

- three classes offered at the same time, or within 15 minutes of
each other
- classes NOT offered during specific times when we aren't available
- two possibile course types for my middle daughter
- classes offered only in the "warm pool" for my young son

Every four months, it's the same thing: hours of wasted time as we
create complex workarounds to document and analyze the possibilities.
Surely this problem extends across many domains. So which domains
have figured it out?

Robert Barlow-Busch
Practice Director, Interaction Design
Quarry Integrated Communications Inc.
rbarlowbusch at quarry.com
(519) 570-2020

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5 Jan 2007 - 11:00am
Esteban Barahona

amazon.com and newegg.com both have a hybrid keyword/category search that


5 Jan 2007 - 2:09pm
Vishal Subraman...

I like the pricegrabber interface a lot. they combine keyword search,
browsing categories and faceted search seamlessly. For eg. a search for TV
will map it directly to a category (Television in this case) allowing a more
accurate result set. And once you reach a category (Main> Television> Flat
Screen Television), the faceted search comes into play and you can now
filter by variables. For Eg. one can choose the following variables- 40-50",
<$1500, 16:9 aspect ratio and change any variable without affecting others.
You can also choose multiple options (accomodates NOT option).

The problem with most other websites is that say you choose in that
particular order- we go to a page like this-
Main> Television> Flat Screen Television> 40-50"> less than $1500> 16:9
aspect ratio.
But sya you decide that you want a bigger screen, you have to start the
process over again. Hence its not truly a non-linear faceted search.


5 Jan 2007 - 2:30pm
Todd Roberts

sidestep.com does non-linear faceted winnowing following a search, but there's no reason it couldn't be implemented instead of a search depending on the dataset.

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