Comment: Matthew Clapp (Aug 17, 2004)
Thanks for sharing. This is a great outline. There are very few people on the web that write with the knowledge and passion that you do. It's really obvious when someone loves what they do.
Comment: Nick Finck (Aug 18, 2004)
Excellent article Lou. I'm going to bring this to work tomorrow to see if we can put it into our process... I know of a few high-profile projects that could benefit from the answers (or lack of answers) for such a list of questions.
Comment: Christian Watson (Aug 18, 2004)
Agreed. This is a great list to expand upon and then apply to all projects as part of the design process.
Comment: Eric Scheid (Aug 18, 2004)
I don't see a problem with including the content/users/context as just another three groups of questions, rather than as an alternative rubric.
Some more questions:
"is the content clear in identifying & communicating itself? (summary/abstract/introduction, titles, subtitles, call outs, etc)"
"how easy is it to reference/link to the information? (good clean URLs, page anchors, purple numbers, etc)"
"how possible is it to integrate/migrate the content in/to other sites? (rss/atom feeds, DC meta-data, semantic html coding, etc)
Comment: Nick Finck (Aug 18, 2004)
Maybe something to add here, perhaps some sub-questions under either search or search results could be:
Does the search cover just the current site or all of corporate?
Can the search be narrowed to include only the site the user is currently on?
Can the search be broadened to include all of the corporate sites?
...some insight into what I have been dealing with lately.
Comment: Mike Jaixen (Aug 19, 2004)
I am definitely going to bookmark this list! Under "Contextual Navigation", I would add "Are there any other sections of the site that should be added to the contextual navigation"? Frequently, there is related information in another section, but no links across because of the "org-chart".
Comment: Lou (Aug 19, 2004)
Mike, amen. Danged enterprise problems...
Keep'em coming folks; thanks!
Funny thing: before I posted this entry, I Googled "information architecture heuristics" and "IA heuristics" and found pretty much nothing. Checked the IAwiki too without much luck. I can swear I encountered something relevant on the web at some point, but it must have been an hallucination.
Comment: Ami Walsh (Aug 26, 2004)
Thanks for the helpful information Lou!
Comment: Martin (Aug 26, 2004)
Really great info. If only our prospects took the time to consider these points then business would be even greater.
Site search is pretty much useless if it doesnt return structured and grouped results. At least from the visitors POV.
Hopefully i can have the salesstaff convince prospects to read your column and understand this :-)
Good work Lou!
Comment: tombraman (Aug 26, 2004)
Great list -- thanks! One thing I might add: A review from the web administrator's perspective. Questions might include: are files/directories named and organized in a meaningful and efficient manner? is metadata simple to understand and easy to maintain? are admin interfaces and tools, including workflow, easy to learn and use? etc. If the designer/developer gets lost, the users will most likely follow.
Comment: Bill L (Sep 1, 2004)
>> Does it support revision/refinement?
>> (Searching is an iterative process;
>> hopefully your site acknowledges
>> this. "Revise your search" is probably a
>> more accurate and better way to think
>> of the thing called "Advanced search".)
Thanks for the great article and list. I understand you did not specifically say to label the advanced search as "Revise your search", but I thought I'd share some comments based on some experience with searches, advanced searches and search results from a recent project:
I think "Revise your search" or "Refine your search" is appropriate on the subsequent search screens - that is AFTER the user has performed an initial search. With either label however, one could still argue that "revise" and "refine" do not necessarily convey that you can have advanced search options...it could be interpreted as merely asking the user to re-type a different search term. To fully convey that there are additional (advanced) search options, I think a label like "Additional Search Options" fully conveys this. Of course, this is wordy, so maybe something like "More Search Options" or simply "More Options" right next to the Search button will suffice. This reasoning especially applies on the initial search screen, before the user has done any searches. "Advanced Search" has other connotations of course (potentially questioning the user's intelligence for instance) but it is so ubiquitous that it's probably safe to use.
Comment: Lou (Sep 1, 2004)
Bill, great points. Clearly there's no ideal labeling option for what I'd like to call "Revise your Search". And while I generally feel that it's safe to go with a convention, I just feel that "Advanced Search" is an awful, horrible, deceitful, pernicious, confusing and even insulting convention if there ever was one. I'm not sure what we can do about it though, as it is so established; maybe a petition drive? ;-)
I agree that refine/revise should go *after* the first search iteration has taken place. I'm not as sure that we need to expose "advanced" search options any earlier though, at least in most cases.
Comment: Lou (Sep 2, 2004)
Hi all; I just posted search-specific heuristics here:
Comment: Rich Wiggins (Sep 2, 2004)
Did you mention best bets, often overlooked by those responsible for enterprise search, but sine qua non?
Comment: Laura Zucchetti (Sep 9, 2004)
This is a great article and website. I'll be coming back here all the time. This is so useful with for me at the moment because I am at the beginning of a web redesign project and I will included this in my project for sure.
Keep the goodness coming.
Comment: Usability Guy (Mar 14, 2005)
I am not an information architect, but I am trying to learn a bit about the subject. And after reading this article, I wonder: In contextual navigation, should there not be multiple paths to the same information? I mean, organizing alphabetically, geographically, by timeline, by subject, etc would certainanly make information more available?
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