February 2008 Archives

Jenifer Tidwell: Interview

My research for Search Patterns will include a series of interviews, and I'll blog the highlights. My first is with Jenifer Tidwell, a pioneering curator of interaction and interface design patterns and the author of Designing Interfaces.

Jenifer is currently consulting with Endeca on development of a pattern library for guided navigation, and she's been actively collecting interesting (good and bad) examples of search interfaces. Here are a few:

She also passed along a link (from Will Evans) to Technology Review's special report on Next-Generation Search (free registration required) where I found Midomi, a singing search application that lets you find music with your voice.

Jenifer and I then discussed the need to identify a richer set of search design and behavior patterns (beyond Faceted Navigation and Best Bets) and the importance of illustrating the combinatorial complexity of search system design (e.g., to support user interactions that combine multiple patterns).

In short, a great first interview. Thanks Jenifer!

Strange Connections

Thanks for all the suggested search patterns, examples, ideas, and resources (e.g., Liz Danzico's search interface types). I'm adding to the search pattern library as time allows. Please keep 'em coming!

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Russ Unger has written about his value as an information architect or as a user experience practitioner. I personally think it's fine to be both. Either way, I enjoyed seeing his adaptation of my user experience honeycomb.

User Experience Honeycomb modified by Russ Unger

Though, when it comes to longevity, while surface elements may change rapidly, I believe we must strive to create information architectures that will endure at least 5-10 years. I've suggested to Russ that he incorporate Stewart Brand's concept of pace layering (and resilience theory) into his presentation.

Russ has also adapted Peter Boersma's T-Model in support of skills assessment within the context of the project development lifecycle.

User Experience Design Lifecycle

These two articles (especially the visuals) successfully integrate and extend some key ideas about the value of (and the complex relationships between) information architecture and user experience design. Nice work Russ!

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As an advisor, I'm happy to see Clueray launch the public beta.


The site is slow and rough, but the idea is promising: a recommendation engine that auto-magically clusters search results by document intent.

Kurt and George are in conversations around licensing their patent-pending IntentMatch technology for use with other search and search-based applications. If you'd like to talk or just provide feedback, please pull this string.

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Mental Models

I had a warm, summery time in New Zealand. Webstock is a wonderfully unique, super-fun experience. Who else treats their speakers to champagne on a double-decker bus? And, I enjoyed wandering around Wellington, swimming off Kapiti, and tramping in the Tararuas. I took a few photos.

Mental Models

The return journey was long. About thirty hours. So, upon arriving home after midnight, it was a nice surprise to find Mental Models waiting in the kitchen.

I'm happy that Indi Young's book has arrived for a couple of reasons. First, it's a great book. I read a draft last summer and was inspired by Indi's fascinating user research process and her exceptional commitment to quality.

Second, it's the first book published by Rosenfeld Media, and I'm so excited to see Lou's dream become reality. As a friend and advisor, I know the tremendous investment it's taken to get this far. Congratulations!!!

Note: If you'd like to buy a copy of Mental Models, use this discount code (FOPETM10) to save 10% off direct purchases from Rosenfeld Media.

Strange Connections

Two more books greeted me when I arrived at the office this morning. The first, Tagging by Gene Smith, is an absolute must-read for anyone who cares about information architecture, social software, or personal knowledge management.

The second, Building Findable Websites by Aarron Walter, is an excellent, practical companion to Ambient Findability. So, which new book is best? Well, you'll have to judge for yourself. I recommend you buy all three, and read them back-to-back while flying to New Zealand. Have a great summer!

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Search Patterns

I'm working on a new book (and talk) about the future of search, and I've created a seed collection of patterns and examples to support my research.

Search Patterns

Please add tags, notes, and comments, and suggest new examples. Over time, I hope to include patterns that illustrate user behavior and the information architecture of search. I'll be blogging about search patterns as the collection and my ideas evolve. If you have comments or suggestions, please let me know.

Strange Connections

If you enjoy great wine, delicious food, and talking about faceted search, FIND'08 is the place for you. I visited Torino a few years ago and loved it!

Alison Head is leading a new research initiative called Project Information Literacy. I've agreed to serve as an advisor. It's an important and timely topic!

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