End User Considerations in Search – Really We Need to Think About Them?
Many individuals don’t know how to search, and using one or two word keywords they will expect the results to be what they were looking for. Too many results causes navigational difficulties and the inability to visually evaluate the results to discern which entry is closest to what the user was searching for. Providing detailed search criteria is an individual, and not necessarily logical choice. Although most search engines support Boolean expressions they are beyond the knowledge of most end users for query refinement. In addition, 33% have difficulty navigating/orienting search results and 28% have difficulty maintaining orientation on a website.
Interestingly, users tend to abandon the search if there are many results or too many pages. According to IDC, 85% of relevant documents are never retrieved during search. From a business user perspective, all of these behaviors are repeated in the organization. The only caveat is that business users will tend to search longer if they know the information is there. 55% of searchers selected irrelevant results from a list of query responses multiple times, 36% did not go beyond the first 3 search results – not pages…results on page 1, and 91% did not go beyond the first page of search results.
Our final challenge with search is how we look for information is quite different between people and between people and machines.
The search engine must accommodate the different ways that users search and be able to discern their intent – human and machine retrieval are very different. Humans are limited by their ignorance. We don’t know what we’re looking for much of the time and so do not know how to find it. We often rely on technology to provide parameters to narrow our scope and put us on the right track. Unfortunately, technology is “face value” and so it does not know how to interpret our queries. Unless trained, machines do not understand that we can have a single word mean multiple things (order a meal, put things in order) or multiple terms mean the same thing (star: celestial entity, celebrity).
(If you have a few minutes and use SharePoint or Office 365, could you kindly take our metadata survey? You could win a free conference pass to Microsoft Ignite. We would greatly appreciate it)