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Prioritizing Web Usability Nielsen and Loranger Chapter 5: Search
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  1. Prioritizing Web UsabilityNielsen and LorangerChapter 5: Search Paul Ammann http://cs.gmu.edu/~pammann/ SWE 432 Design and Implementation of Software for the Web

  2. Overview • The State of Search • How Search Should Work • Search Interface • Search Engine Results Pages • Search Engine Optimization Current Success Rates For External Search Vastly Exceed Success Rates For Internal Search. How???

  3. The State of Search • External vs. Internal Search Success: 56% vs. 33% • Internal Search Should Be Much Better • Much Smaller Set of Pages • Extensive Knowledge of User Intent • Deep Understanding of Important Parts of Your Site • Deep Understanding of Old/Obsolete Parts of Your Site • Potentially More Access to Metadata • Controlled Vocabulary • Synonyms, Misspellings, Variants • You Can Trust Your Own Customized Summary Information • Third Party Web Sites Are Deliberately Dishonest • No Problem with Spammers or Other Manipulation Internal Search Is A Completely Different Problem

  4. The State of Search • Some Go Immediately To Search; Some Prefer Links • Need to Support Both Types of Behavior • Tip: How To Know If You Need Search • Up to 100 pages; 100 to 1000 pages; More than 1000 pages • Users Can Easily Scan a Single Page • Three Simple Steps to Better Search • Buy Better Search Software • And Tweak The Settings • Design SERP According to Usability Guidelines • Improve Pages So They Work Better With Search Software • Write Good Titles and Summaries Good Internal Search Requires Investment

  5. How Search Should Work • Users Want Internal Search to Look Like External Search • The Three Things Users Expect From Search • Search Box • Search Button • Linear Prioritized Results • Tip: When Is a Search Not a Search? • Search Means Keyword Search • Don’t Use The Search Button for Other Actions • Enter • Submit • Advanced Search: IEEE Explore • Parametric Search: Zappos Shoes Search Usability: Good Search and Expected Search

  6. Search Interface • Standard Placement • Text Box/Button Top Left or Top Right On Every Page • You Can’t Easily Predict Where A User Will Become Lost • Tip: Don’t Try To Be A Search Engine • Don’t Search The Whole Web; Others Do That Better • Query Length and Search Box Width • Typical 18 Character Width Too Narrow for 27% Queries • Recommend 27 Character Width: Accommodates 90% • Specialized Sites Need More: American Heart Association • Advanced Search And Scoped Search: Generally Avoid • Boolean Algebra Too Hard For Most Users Your Search Should Be “Normal”

  7. Search Engine Results Pages • Number One Guideline: Mimic Major Search Engines • Google, Bing, Yahoo • No Need for Numbering or Relevancy Rankings • Users Will Scan From Top Anyway • Each Search Should Start With a Clickable Headline • Follow With 2/3 Line Summary: BASF • Target Practice • Fitt’s Law: Time to Click a Target Is: • Inversely Proportional to Size of Target • Proportional to Log of Distance to Target • Badly Designed SERP Requires Users To Click Tiny Numbers • Arrows or “Next”/”Prev” Links Are Better Major Search Engines Have Converged

  8. Search Engine Results Pages (2) • Tip: SERP Dating Conventions • Use International Format, But Spell Out Month • So September 17, 2009 is 2009-09-17 or 2009-September-17 • Date Should Match “Real” Writing of Document • Tip: Help Bad Spellers • Use Prefix To Suggest Complete Search Queries • Provide a “Did You Mean” link • Place Above Search Hits • 7.5% of Queries Contained Typos • BASF again: “Polyethylene Fibers” vs. “Polythelene Fibers” • Repeat on Bing and Google Helping User vs. Punishing User

  9. Search Engine Results Pages (3) • Best Bets • Definition: Manually Link Query to One or More Pages • External Search Engines Don’t Trust Site Suggestions • One Of the Many Prices of Spam • But Internal Search Engines Can and Should • Don’t Differentiate Best Bets From Search Engine Results • Lest • User Will Think They Are Ads… • Mine Search Logs For Most Frequent Queries • Test Against Search Engine • Add Best Bet if Necessary Adding Value to Internal Search

  10. Search Engine Results Pages (4) • Four Ways to Build Best Bets • Product Names/Brand Names • Product Numbers/SKUs/Catalog Numbers/Other Codes • Category Names • Use Names Commonly Accepted In Your Industry • Names of Top Executives/Key Staff • Maintaining Best Bets • Maintenance is Hard! • Best Bet Maintenance Requires Process and Staffing • Interesting Example: HP • Note Result Categories When Searching For Specific Product Search Still Has a Long Way to Go

  11. Search Engine Results Pages (5) • Sorting the SERP • Usually Sort by Relevance • Don’t Confuse User With Options • Exceptions • Sort By Date For Users Monitoring Updates • Example: MSNBC (Search “Redoubt Volcano”) • Sort By Price For Product Heavy Sites • Example: Amazon (Search “DeWalt Power Tools”) • For Product Sites, SERP Needs to Show a LOT of Results • Example: Exterior Lighting Universe (Search For a Light) Default Presentation Matches Typical User

  12. Search Engine Results Pages (6) • No Results Found • Blank Page is Bad! • Help User Modify Query To Get Better Results • Present Bad Query For Editing, With Suggestions • Good Time To Admit To Having “Advanced Search” • Example of What Not To Do: Organic Produce Shoppe • One Result Found • Option: Go Straight to Page • Acceptable for Search on Known Item, such as SKU • Example: Home Depot (Search Brand Name vs. SKU) • Bu Usually Violates User Expectations • Showing SERP Gives User Option To Modify Query Special Search Results Demand Extra Care

  13. Search Engine Optimization • Huge Incentive To Improve Web Sites Search Ranking • Black Hat SEO Tricks: Don’t Do These Things! • Cloaking • Send Regular Pages To Users vs. “Doorway Pages” to Spiders • In 2006, Google banned BMW’s main site for cloaking • Search Spam • Creating Huge Numbers of Content Free Pages With Lots of Keywords • Link Farms • Establish Bogus Web Sites That Link to Your Site • Comment Spam (Blogs, Discussion Forums, etc) • Post TextWith Links Back To Your Site • Domain Repurposing • Buy Website With Respectable Ranking and Replace Content Bad Guys Are Serious, And They Make Money At It

  14. Search Engine Optimization(2) • Three White-Hat SEO Techniques • Linguistic SEO, Architectural SEO, Reputation SEO • Naming Names • Picking A New Company Name or Brand Name? • Test Search Name and Avoid Collisions • Example: First Division Association, est. 1918 • Tip: The Beauty of Using Text-Only Ads • Most Search Engine Ads Are Small Boxes of Text • Most Users Ignore Media-Rich Ads Search Spiders Are The World’s Most Influential Blind Readers

  15. Search Engine Optimization(3) • Tip: Tracking The Value of Search Ads • If You Pay For Search Ads, You Have To Track Visitor Value • Search Visitors Are More Valuable Than Content Visitors • The Top Linguistic SEO Guideline • Speak the User’s Language, Not Corporate Jargon • Search Query Logs For User Vocabulary • Listen to Users in User Testing • Bloggers Are Leading Vocabulary Indicators • Emphasize Words That Describe the User Problem • Users Search Problems, Not Solutions Monitoring Users To Understand Their Behavior

  16. Search Engine Optimization(4) • Tip: Keyword Overuse Backfires • If Your Content Is Incomprehensible, You Still Lose • Tip: Think Phrases, Not Keywords • Longer Phrases Suggest Proximity To Task Completion • Architectural SEO • Ensuring Your Pages Can Be Indexed • Supplement Images, etc. With Text • Having A Linking Structure To Guide Search Spiders • Dynamic Pages Are The Issue • Spiders Ignore Anything After the”?” in a URL • Use Descriptive Text in the Link • Link More To Main Page For Concept Construct Your Pages As Search Engines Expect

  17. Search Engine Optimization(5) • Reputation SEO • Usually, “Good” Sites Score Higher Than “Bad” Sites • Links Are Good • Links From High Reputation Sites Are Better • People Naturally Cite Sites They Believe Are High Quality • Link Rot Erodes Perceived Quality Currently, An Overreliance on Links For Reputation