Toward a search dominant wayfinding paradigm (worthit?)
24 Sep 2009 - 8:18am
3 years ago
I agree that large corporate (and .edu and .gov) websites should at least
seriously consider migrating to a search-centered strategy. Browsing rarely
scales well. Site search is increasingly a choice of first resort. And,
that's only when users don't parachute deep into the site via Google. This
means that every destination is also a gateway. We can enhance the value of
these findable and social objects through attention to IxD, IA and SEO. We
make this case in our new book (Search Patterns), so you'll have to wait
until January for more detail :-)
For the past several months I have been perseverating on the concept of
creating a search-dominant wayfinding system for my web site: Adobe.com.
Why, you may ask? My thought (and I know Jared, at minimum will disagree
after having just listened to a recent podcast from him on this) is that as
web users we are moving more and more in that direction - toward search as
being a standard, hard-wired, lizard brain reflex when confronted with
moving through the vasty content spaces that are out there. The Googles have
had no small impact on our wayfinding approaches.
*Meme check: search as last resort?*
I wanted to call out and question a particular meme, namely: ³search on
sites like adobe.com is a function of last resort for those poor folks who
aren¹t finding their trigger words in the page (nav or content). I know
there is research on this so please hit me with it as necessary. But I can¹t
help thinking that you could phrase a new approch like this: ³People search
first because that¹s how they are used to finding info². What do you think?
*Why a search dominant wayfinding mode?* Any attempt on our part (UXers) to
come up with appropriate linked words or images to use as nav in the hopes
of getting users where we think they want to go is only a guess. Sometimes
our guesses at nav are great but sometimes they totally fail. What we do
know is that in every user's mind is an intent as they move through a web
site. If we let that user type their intent into a search box then that is a
step closer to (and more feasible than) creating the mind reading UI we all
know would be best for users. Of course the next thing is: are the search
results useful? But lets assume they were. Why in that case would we not
want to create a search dominant wayfinding UI for folks.
*What would a search dominant wayfinding UI look like for a site that's not
It would probably have a very prominent search field. One of those giant
novelty size web 2.0 style things perhaps. For a site like adobe.com it
would probably also have some standard links such as "products" and
"support", etc but those would not be the main focus. Perhaps search could
even be used to generate the local navigation on subsections. Perhaps the
search input field could be integrated into the page such that it could also
act as a page title (an example is here http://bit.ly/o81Vp, although
admittedly its a results page). An extreme example of a search only UI on
the homepage is here: http://www.sequoiacap.com/.
Question: what are you thoughts on developing a search dominant wayfinding
paradigm for a corporate site. I'd like to hear what you think.