Search as Navigation

10 Mar 2010 - 11:58am
2 years ago
32 replies
24667 reads
eriklevitch
2008

Does anyone have good examples of sites that use search as the primary mode of navigation? Also, any examples where search is more prominent but a traditional IA still exists?

Comments

10 Mar 2010 - 3:11pm
morville
2010

The British Library leads with search: http://www.bl.uk/

 

 

26 Mar 2010 - 4:20pm
jstanford
2003

Sequoia capital has a search based UI. http://www.sequoiacap.com/

Julie

-----Original Message----- From: ixdaor@host.ixda.org [mailto:ixdaor@host.ixda.org] On Behalf Of morville Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2010 3:53 PM To: julie@slicedbreaddesign.com Subject: Re: [IxDA] Search as Navigation

The British Library leads with search: http://www.bl.uk/

10 Mar 2010 - 3:32pm
Fred Celestino
2009

Hello Erik,

I have recently worked as a visual designer on a project for an intranet that had the same characteristic you are asking for. Unfortunately I am not in a position right now to make it public.

However, ESPN-Brasil (http://espnbrasil.terra.com.br) is a great example that uses this concept.

Its designers swapped all main menu for a search bar and tagged its content, so it works together with the "search-navigation".

I hope it helps your research. If you want I could send you the project I was involved privately.

Best regards,

Fred Celestino | Visual Designer

w: cargocollective.com/fred

e: fred.celestino@me.com

t: 55 61 8144 3120

10 Mar 2010 - 11:00pm
nmccrave
2010

The IEEE XPlore Digital library was recently revamped with search as the prominent method (and subsequent refinement options), but browsing is still an option in the upper left.

http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/Xplore/guesthome.jsp

 

11 Mar 2010 - 3:22am
Dimiter Simov
2006

Check also UIE's tip Browse vs. Search in Application Navigation - http://www.uie.com/articles/browse_vs_search?link=tips100222_9

11 Mar 2010 - 3:34pm
nixkuroi
2010

I have nothing I can show here (it's an internal site), but if you are using any kind of tree structure for your menu system, it's relatively easy to put a search box at the top and then have the menu system dynamically expose elements that match the search criteria within the menu as you type.  This is especially useful for sites with deep sitemaps that are all managed by a data source and using url rewriting.
 
It looks something like this
 
[ "Documents" ] SEARCH
 
nav item1
    item 1 child 1
    item 1 child 2
    item 1 child 3
    item 1 child 4
        item 1 child 4 child 1
        item 1 child 4 child 1
        item 1 child 4 child 1
               item 1 child 4 child 1 child 1 (Documents) <*found and displayed in navigation*>
nav item 2
nav item 3
nav item 4  
 
If you need something a little deeper than that, you can create a server side proxy that does a google site:search and returns results based on that, or does a full text search on a database if your page content is stored there.  Doing this, you can display it similarly to above, but beneath the actual Page link, you can also display a snippit of the text from that page as well, to show the context with which the search term is used.
 
 
nav item1
    item 1 child 1
    item 1 child 2
    item 1 child 3
    item 1 child 4
        item 1 child 4 child 1
        item 1 child 4 child 1
        item 1 child 4 child 1
               item 1 child 4 child 1 child 1 (Documents) <*found and displayed in navigation*>
                 "... My friend says searching for documents is fun..."
nav item 2
nav item 3
nav item 4  
The thought behind this is to put the entire site behind your menu, but make your search an educational experience that actually teaches your users the structure of your site while they search.

16 Mar 2010 - 4:00pm
frank dahle
2007

Im working on redesigning an "old school" desktop app. After struggling with really rigid and complex structures and loads of data, Im wondering if it would be possible just to put a search engine at the top and make it index everything.. pages, content, data entries, services.. the lot. My inspiration here is Launchy and all those navi-apps that index your messy harddisk and let you find everything in a second..

Any thoughts on this? could it be doable? has it been done before, with old apps, i mean?

Thanks for a really interesting subject. I think search based navigation combined with commands could be the primary navigation in apps in the future.

Frank
Oslo

16 Mar 2010 - 4:58pm
seifip
2009

Are you suggesting that the good ol' command line is the interface of the future??

16 Mar 2010 - 7:48pm
Sara Lin
2009

Launchy-like apps are useful when the users are expected to know the content, or at least the names and types of the content well.  Unless the app contains enough content, or the search parser is clever enough to interpret the user's intention correctly, the user may still need to browse for the content somehow.  Have you considered using filtering, or faceted search? 

17 Mar 2010 - 6:04pm
frank dahle
2007

Sara, in my mind this is a kind of filtering. Isn't it? The menu narrows down as you type "Par". What's special is the combination of commands and content I think.

I suppose there has to be both the traditional menu and this navi-search. To cover for both experienced and unexperienced users. But I don't want it to take up space permanently. The user should get to the one or the other with shortcuts (like Alt+Space in Launchy).

26 Mar 2010 - 4:40pm
Mathew Sanders
2009

@Frank I think it sounds like a great idea! I proposed something similar myself for a contact center staff application.
My inspiration was the live search filter used in iTunes. Help resolution entries, customer details and tasks could each be accessed through a an interface where people typed keywords which narrowed down the number of possible actions.
While it had positive internal response, and my gut feeling is that it would be a good approach to take, for various reasons it never went past the concept stage and was never subject to any usability evaluations.  
On 17 March 2010 12:20, frank dahle <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Im working on redesigning an "old school" desktop app. After struggling with really rigid and complex structures and loads of data, Im wondering if it would be possible just to put a search engine at the top and make it index everything.. pages, content, data entries, services.. the lot. My inspiration here is Launchy and all those navi-apps that index your messy harddisk and let you find everything in a second..

Any thoughts on this? could it be doable? has it been done before, with old apps, i mean?

Thanks for a really interesting subject. I think search based navigation combined with commands could be the primary navigation in apps in the future.

Frank
Oslo

(
16 Mar 2010 - 7:58pm
Jenny Tsai
2008

What about Amazon?  http://www.amazon.com

17 Mar 2010 - 9:22am
frank dahle
2007

Consider this use case: Im a nurse. In this application I want to prescribe 14 different drugs to a patient in intensive care.

I click on "prescribe drugs" and on the screen I see a collapsed list of 700 types of drugs. Each of them come in several sizes, strenghts etc...

With standard narrowing I can type Par and get the drug Paracet in a short list. I click on Paracet and a form opens where I choose all the correct parameters - and click Save! I do this 14 times...

Or, I go to the prescription page, and in a "search&command" field I type: "pre par 10 4 48" (prescribe paracet 10mg every 4 hours for 48 hours) ...and Im done! On the screen a list with the prescriptions is emerging one by one.

..Sometimes there will be ofther parameters to decide and I have to use a more complex form.. but for 80-90% of the cases this will be the enough.

On another section in the application it's all about connecting technical equipment to the patient, with loads of alternatives there too..

Its just a conceptual idea right now. Don't know if it can be done within the framework of this application. But the nurses liked the idea right away. It will reduce mouse clicking and speed up the process. Maybe it has to be done in steps, choose a command - choose a drug - and so on.. But still I think it will be faster than scrolling a collapsed list and go through a form everytime.

Any thoughts?

18 Mar 2010 - 12:47am
Sara Lin
2009

The kind of search command you are talking about has been implemented in applications that targets specific data or workflows.  For example, I work for Splunk, an IT log management company that developed our own search and reporting commands.  Given that this is a very common use case and if the subset of commands are short and simple, it may be a handy shortcut for the nurse.  Learning this kind of commands takes time and patience, especially that the nurse may not have linux background.

26 Mar 2010 - 4:41pm
lulu pachuau
2008

This one is pretty good: http://newzealand.govt.nz/

The trick is to come up with a good categorisation scheme (aka topics, subjects, keywords and their hierarichy or sub-topics) based on the facets of the content types you've defined, their relationships and types of tasks people may perform. Then allow items to belong to multiple categories.
Cheers,Lulu
On 18 March 2010 21:09, Sara Lin <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

The kind of search command you are talking about has been implemented in applications that targets specific data or workflows.  For example, I work for Splunk [1], an IT log management company that developed our own search and reporting commands.  Given that this is a very common use case and if the subset of commands are short and simple, it may be a handy shortcut for the nurse.  Learning this kind of commands takes time and patience, especially that the nurse may not have linux background.

(((Ple
22 Dec 2011 - 11:37am
Don Dunbar
2009

Hi Frank, your example of a nurse looking for prescriptions is harder than it first appears. Drug names change frequently and the databases are updated monthly so it's not impossible but costly to maintain the kind of search you suggest. On top of that if you want to have connections to patients you must provide a translation between the actual drug names and their common names that patients use. Then some drugs have multiple names or the active ingredient is used in different forms in over-the-counter versions ( like acetamenophin in different tylenols).  I think your proposal is very worthwhile but you should take those things into consideration.  On a project I worked on where we did basically what you suggested it turned out to be a very complex problem. Partly because of working directly with patients who had to enter their prescription and they only knew the common names and partly because of complexities with drug names themselves. We eventually used a kind of autocomplete function that took into account patients previous entries to help filter the choices as the patients typed. 

 

17 Mar 2010 - 10:45am
nixkuroi
2010

Frank,  what about a system similar to the one I described above (and Apple's example that Dimiter gave), except it's connected to a clustered index that keeps track of and trends selections based on common user interactions or typical patient conditions.  

In your example, you could search for Par

It comes up with

1) Paracet
2) Paraneoplastic syndrome


If you arrow down and select Paraneoplastic Syndrome
Based on that, it populates the top 20 drugs typically associated with this disease
You mouseover each medication and drill into the interval -> dosage,
The act of changing it adds it to the list.  

If you'd selected Paracet
Based on that, it populates the top 14 drugs typically prescribed with this drug 
You mouseover each medication and drill into the interval -> dosage
The act of changing it adds it to the list.  

All of your selections are automatically filled with contextually relevant options based on what others have chosen or known interactions (like a med that helps with nausea that's a side effect of another med.)  Since they only get added to the actual list if you change something, you lessen the risk someone is going to accidentally prescribe something that randomly appears on the list.

17 Mar 2010 - 5:40pm
frank dahle
2007

Keeping track on trends is a good idea Mike! It does sound a bit mouse intensive though. We need to reduce the need for the mouse in the app. This navi-search engine should also be context sensitive. I would like it to know where in the application the user is.

The big question is, can this be done? It's an SQL/.NET application. Is it possible to have a search engine index the database and(!) combine commands with content like I described? Could it be solved by macros maybe? When in drugs dept the Add command is a macro that asks for amount, dosage, time etc..

 

26 Mar 2010 - 4:20pm
Mathew Sanders
2009

Lancashire City Council are experimenting with a search driven navigation on their website: http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/
On 11 March 2010 10:37, eriklevitch <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Does anyone have good examples of sites that use search as the primary mode of navigation? Also, any examples where search is more prominent but a traditional IA still exists?

(
26 Mar 2010 - 4:20pm
Laura Malone
2009

If I understand correctly what you mean by navigation, I would say that most travel sites would fit into this category.
 Laura Malone



From: eriklevitch <contact@ixda.org>
To: lakmalone@yahoo.com
Sent: Wed, March 10, 2010 1:18:38 PM
Subject: [IxDA] Search as Navigation

Does anyone have good examples of sites that use search as the primary mode of navigation? Also, any examples where search is more prominent but a traditional IA still exists?

26 Mar 2010 - 4:20pm
Carola Ponce
2010

http://www.activatestudio.com/

On Mar 10, 2010, at 12:51 PM, eriklevitch wrote:

> Does anyone have good examples of sites that use search as the
> primary mode of navigation? Also, any examples where search is more
> prominent but a traditional IA still exists? > >

26 Mar 2010 - 4:20pm
nixkuroi
2010

I have nothing I can show here (it's an internal site), but if you are using any kind of tree structure for your menu system, it's relatively easy to put a search box at the top and then have the menu system dynamically expose elements that match the search criteria within the menu as you type.  This is especially useful for sites with deep sitemaps that are all managed by a data source and using url rewriting.

  It looks something like this   [ "Documents" ] SEARCH   nav item1     item 1 child 1

    item 1 child 2     item 1 child 3     item 1 child 4        item 1 child 4 child 1         item 1 child 4 child 1         item 1 child 4 child 1                item 1 child 4 child 1 child 1 (Documents) <found and displayed in navigation> nav item 2 nav item 3 nav item 4     If you need something a little deeper than that, you can create a server side proxy that does a google site:search and returns results based on that, or does a full text search on a database if your page content is stored there.  Doing this, you can display it similarly to above, but beneath the actual Page link, you can also display a snippit of the text from that page as well, to show the context with which the search term is used.

   

nav item1     item 1 child 1

    item 1 child 2     item 1 child 3     item 1 child 4        item 1 child 4 child 1         item 1 child 4 child 1         item 1 child 4 child 1                item 1 child 4 child 1 child 1 (Documents) <found and displayed in navigation>                  "... My friend says searching for documents is fun..." nav item 2 nav item 3 nav item 4  

  On Wed, Mar 10, 2010 at 2:52 PM, eriklevitch <contact@ixda.org> wrote:

Does anyone have good examples of sites that use search as the primary mode of navigation? Also, any examples where search is more prominent but a traditional IA still exists?

(((Please leave all content below this line)))
________________________________________________________________
Welcome
23 Dec 2011 - 7:00pm
penguinstorm
2005

Salesforce's Setup and Admin functions basically do this. Is it "search as navigation?" Well, I suppose that's a semantic issue to some extent...I certainly USE the Search function to quickly find the tools I'm looking for, but at the same time the Tree is structured so that things are organized. There's just so *much* of it that it's easier to use the search.

You can set up a developer account if you want and see it. I've attached a screenshot as well.

salesforce.gif

26 Mar 2010 - 4:40pm
Jarod Tang
2007

Google , :)

7 Dec 2011 - 3:25pm
wusatiuk
2011

Price comparison engines are usually using search as main navigation.

23 Dec 2011 - 4:14am
hilary b
2009

Hi there,  a little late to the party, but the V&A site has conventional navigation that triggers a search http://www.vam.ac.uk/

 

28 Dec 2011 - 8:17am
lukus
2010

http://drupalmodules.com/ has a very fast search based interface which helps a developer find modules for the CMS based on plain text and faceted searches.

 

 

29 Dec 2011 - 4:05pm
whitneyq
2010

AccrualNet, a resources for professionals working in cancer clinical trials, uses search as a primary way to find relevant research papers.

https://accrualnet.cancer.gov/tools-resources/

On Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 3:12 AM, lukus wrote: > http://drupalmodules.com/ [1] has a very fast search based interface which > helps a developer find modules for the CMS based on plain text and faceted > searches. > > > > > > > (

31 Dec 2011 - 6:51pm
aalapd
2009

I like the http://utah.gov/index.html website as a search based navigation website. One of the reasons it works so well for me is the way the search results are presented to the user making it easy for you to make choices.

25 Jan 2012 - 1:12pm
eriklevitch
2008

Whoa, didn't realize this thread was still going! I really like the Utah.gov example, that is exactly what I was looking for! To be clear, I know any link can be considered navigation; however, I meant search as the main emphasis of navigating throughout a site.

Thanks again, IxDA!

26 Jan 2012 - 7:31am
Jared M. Spool
2003

What do you like about this search-based approach to navigation?

27 Jan 2012 - 8:03am
SledDawg
2010

http://www.forrester.com/ is almost completely built out of search, Endeca specifically. Choosing a nav tab gives you a landing page that immediatly presents the sub-facets of that primary facet. I wonder how they choose what to extract for the A-Z index though, since it doesn't include what seem to be the primary facets?

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