April 2008 Archives

Faceted Search: An Interview with Tito Sierra

I met Tito Sierra at the IA Summit in Miami, and we talked soon afterwards about his experiences with faceted search. Previously at Amazon.com, Tito has spent the past few years at NCSU Libraries, working with a great team to transform the library catalog and identify best practices for search design.

NCSU Library Catalog

In addition to sharing lessons learned via Endeca at the NCSU Libraries, they've extended their successful model to the Triangle Research Libraries, and created a research testbed for faceted search and navigation.

Highlights (notes not quotes) from my conversation with Tito include:

  • We went overboard at first by exposing twelve facets. Our studies showed users suffering from "facet fatique." The new design has a smaller facet footprint, and we removed the prominent LCC browser.
  • We're also employing collapsible facets, quickfilter checkboxes, and stacking breadcrumbs to use space wisely.
  • Facets are ordered by frequency of use (e.g., subjects are most popular) and grouped by type (e.g., exploratory versus known item search).
  • We've created virtual hierarchies (e.g., formats under Videos and DVDs).
  • We've designed "facet triggers." For instance, upon selecting an institution (e.g., Duke), users are shown individual libraries (e.g., Law).

I also asked Tito about the future of search. As massive digitization projects (e.g., Google, OCA) mature, he's excited by the prospect of discovery interfaces that leverage both algorithms and structured metadata. Tito also sees potential in personal search and the use of past queries to inform future results.

Finally, Tito is committed to advancing our shared understanding of search. His testbed is designed to make it easy for researchers to experiment with and gather data on a variety of faceted search and navigation interfaces. If you're interested in learning more, please contact Tito.

Strange Connections

Check out The Noisy Channel by Daniel Tunkelang, chief scientist at Endeca.

Karl Fast told me about Evernote. Ready to build a search engine for your life?

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Spime Search

Inspired by this mesmerizing Bruce Sterling vimeo, I've added more links and examples to spime search, but I'm plagued by the plethora of even better examples I haven't yet found. If you discover one, please let me know!

Bruce Sterling from Innovationsforum on Vimeo.

Strange Connections

My Search Patterns talk is now a Slidecast (with audio).

Catriona Cornett's inspireUX is worth a visit.

EuroIA is headed to Amsterdam.

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Information Architecture Summit

I had a great time at this year's IA Summit. My workshop went well, and though there's room for improvement, I was happy with my first Search Patterns talk.

The quality of the conference sessions was high. My favorites were Content Page Design by Luke Wroblewski, Edge Interfaces by Stephen Anderson, and Placemaking by Dennis Schleicher. I also missed some great ones, as usual.

Other highlights included:

  • Running to Miami Beach for a swim and a walk along Ocean Avenue.
  • Encountering a huge, green, wild iguana (and living to tell the tale).
  • The Argus dinner and the eBay dinner and my big lunch in Little Havana.
  • Spending time with old and new friends (and diving into the twitter stream).

Thanks to everyone (especially these folks) who made this year's summit so wonderful. See y'all next year (February 18 to 22) in Memphis!

Strange Connections

For more vicarious fun, see Crowdvine, Flickr, SlideShare, de.licio.us, Twitter, Blogsearch, and stay tuned to Boxes & Arrows for the podcasts.

I'm returning to Florida in four weeks to keynote Endeca Discover 08.

The IA Institute's annual report is available. Five years and going strong!

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Brian Goodman: Interview

I talked with Brian Goodman about Search Patterns. As manager of IBM's WebAhead Lab, Brian identifies and develops emerging technologies (6 to 18 month time horizon) that can be applied to solve real business problems.

During the past year, Brian's group has focused on building social spaces (e.g., blogs, wikis) and platforms (e.g., tools for bookmarking, tagging, rating, and reputation management) that support integration. For instance, they designed an enterprise tagging system with widgets that can be integrated into any service.

This platform approach has enabled the integration of social content into enterprise search. The first step was a portlet (on the side of result pages) featuring blog posts and bookmarked articles. Subsequent adoption and satisfaction were higher than expected.

The team then went further by integrating social data (e.g., ratings, tag frequency) directly into the algorithms for enterprise search. A page that's been bookmarked, for instance, receives a boost. In similar fashion to Google's PageRank, this approach to socially influenced search improves both result relevance and user satisfaction.

Other highlights (notes not quotes) from my conversation with Brian include:

  • Created a recommender system that leverages folksonomies and taxonomies (which are deconstructed into tags). Users can subscribe to tags and taggers (people). The recommendations are surprisingly good.
  • Created a reputation system built on peer review and feedback that became a fantastic source of data for expertise search (which is also integrated into enterprise search).
  • These tools help people identify content and individuals they wouldn't normally find by searching.

Looking ahead in search, Brian sees more personalization, and a profound need for new interaction models that make complex queries simple.

Strange Connections

If you can't go to the IA Summit, or if you're like me and can't wait to get there, check out Meet Your Peers by Jorge Arango. See y'all soon!

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Behavior & Design

I've added a collection to Search Patterns that includes concept visuals, behavior patterns, and design patterns (e.g., faceted navigation).

Pearl Grow

Also, with the help of my Blackberry Curve (I dropped my trusty Treo one too many times), I've added several new examples to mobile search. I'd love your feedback and suggestions for new patterns. Thanks!

Strange Connections

Going to the IA Summit? Then, create a personal schedule using Crowdvine.

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