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Jun 15, 2009: Beyond berrypicking

A colleague asks:

I need to gather some evidence of user behaviour with regards to site search, namely 'browse vs search'. Do you know of any recent research papers that show a trend towards people preferring to search a website, rather than navigate? If so, what are the common themes? Does it depend on the type of user, the type of site, etc?

Great question. I always refer people to Marcia Bates' seminal work on berrypicking, which defuses the versus part of "browse versus search," as it well should. But it's now twenty years old; any other, more recent suggestions?

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Comment: Donna (Jun 23, 2009)

There's my B&A article on information seeking behaviours, which I've started to expand on for a couple of upcoming conferences: http://boxesandarrows.com/view/four_modes_of_seeking_information_and_how_to_design_for_them

It's not academic research, but a hell of a lot of observation of people

Comment: Dennis Schleicher (Jun 29, 2009)


I am very careful about search vs. browse. I did some in-depth interviewing of people whose main activity was "searching" for information on the corporate intranet. Everybody talked about "searching" but through the in-depth interviews it was revealed that they were using the TERM "search" but not in the same way UX people use it. I think often we confuse emic (terminology used by the actor/subject/user) and etic (more objective? terminology used by observer.)

Sorry if this was too off topic.

Comment: chooptetbapex (Jul 8, 2009)

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