Large organizations and software companies are spending millions of dollars to make Enterprise Search effective. Unfortunately, search continues to be a huge source of frustration for most users. In a survey presented at Enterprise Search Summit, I saw a statistic that 59% of all users were unhappy with their Enterprise Search implementation.
So how do we fix Enterprise Search? Well, it won’t be fixed by making technology changes – instead it will be fixed by changing the way we think about search. Your users are not searching to get an ordered list of results. Finding information is just the first step of what they are trying to do. Your users are searching in order to take an action. Find out what action your users are attempting to take and develop a search that helps them do it and your users will be pleased. Turn Find into Act and you will be an Enterprise Search star.
Google offers a great example of an action based search. Go to http://www.google.com and search for “Mexican Restaurants in Reston VA”. The first result is a map with pushpins showing the location of all of the mexican restaurants in Reston, VA. Now, this search is really not about finding a restaurant – it is about making it possible for me to take action (whether that action is me heading out to the restaurant for lunch, recommending it to a colleague who is driving through the area and calling me for suggestions, etc). What do you need to know when you are looking for a restaurant?
- How close is it to where I want it to be?
- What is the phone number so that I can call for reservations or ask questions?
- Will I like it?
The first result in your search is a map with pushpins on it representing each restaurant that matches your search criteria. Next to the map is a list of each restaurant, the phone number and a link to the reviews. This type of search result makes it easy for me to pick the restaurant I want and to call for reservations. There is no long list of results. I don’t even care what the order of the results is. The map gives me the information to make my own decisions and to take action quickly.
Another example of an action based search can be seen at http://www.marketwatch.com. Go to the website and try to search for VIGN. As you are typing a dropdown appears with two separate lists. The top list is a list of ticker symbols. The bottom list is a list of related topics. For the purpose of this exercise, select the ticker symbol.
A screen appears with all of the information you would need to make an investment decision on Vignette Corporation. You have key indicators, a stock chart, recent news and the current stock price. Once again, there is no long boring list of search results. There is no need to worry about relevancy. MarketWatch users have the information they need to take action on an investment decision.
These are great examples of searches where the designers thought about actions their users were going to take rather than the list or results people need to comb through. In my next blog, I will talk about how to implement an action based search.
EDITED TO ADD: LINK TO PART II