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Day: October 29, 2009

Where and How Can You Look for Good Enterprise Search Interface Design?

Designing an enterprise search interface that employees will use on their intranet is challenging in any circumstance. But starting from nothing more than verbal comments or even a written specification is really hard. However, conversations about what is needed and wanted are informative because they can be aggregated to form the basis for the overarching design.

Frequently, enterprise stakeholders will reference a commercial web site they like or even search tools within social sites. These are a great starting point for a designer to explore. It makes a lot of sense to visit scores of sites that are publicly accessible or sites where you have an account and navigate around to see how they handle various design elements.

To start, look at:

  • How easy is it to find a search box?
  • Is there an option to do advanced searches (Boolean or parametric searching)?
  • Is there a navigation option to traverse a taxonomy of terms?
  • Is there a “help” option with relevant examples for doing different kinds of searches?
  • What happens when you search for a word that has several spellings or synonyms, a phrase (with or without quotes), a phrase with the word and in it, a numeral, or a date?
  • How are results displayed: what information is included, what is the order of the results and can you change them? Can you manipulate results or search within the set?
  • Is the interface uncluttered and easily understood?

The point of this list of questions is that you can use it to build a set of criteria for designing what your enterprise will use and adopt, enthusiastically. But this is only a beginning. By actually visiting many sites outside your enterprise, you will find features that you never thought to include or aggravations that you will surely want to avoid. From these experiences on external sites, you can build up a good list of what is important to include or banish from your design.

When you find sites that you think are exemplary, ask key stakeholders to visit them and give you their feedback, preferences and dislikes. Particularly, you want to note what confuses them or enthusiastic comments about what excites them.

This post originated because several press notices in the past month brought to my attention Web applications that have sophisticated and very specialized search applications. I think they can provide terrific ideas for the enterprise search design team and also be used to demonstrate to your internal users just what is possible.

Check out these applications and articles: on KNovel, particularly this KNovel pageThomasNet; EBSCOHost mentioned in this article about the “deep Web.”. All these applications reveal superior search capabilities, have long track records, and are already used by enterprises every day. Because they are already successful in the enterprise, some by subscription, they are worth a second look as examples of how to approach your enterprise’s search interface design.

How CMOs Are Planning for Social Media

Updated November 24

While preparing for today’s webcast on digital marketing and lessons learned from the publishing indusry, we discovered the August 2009 CMO survey conducted by professor Christine Moorman at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, with support from the American Marketing Association. Moorman’s results include insights into expectations about the role of social media in digital marketing.

The 511 top marketing executives of US companies interviewed in late July expect to increase spending on social media efforts by more than 300% over the next five years, moving budget allocations from 3.5% to 13.7%.

Top investments are pegged for social networking (65%), video and photosharing (52%), and blogging (50%).

The five most frequently projected uses for social media applications are brand building, customer acquisition, new product introductions, customer retention, and market research.

Read the CMO survey press release for details on the research and links to full results. Register for today’s webinar on digital marketing and lessons learned from publishers. 

Update: The webinar recording is available here.

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