25 April 2010
Search vs Navigation?
Are you a control freak?
I am - well maybe just a little bit. What do you trust more - navigating down YOUR path or relying blindly on search - usually Google based on a specific site.
The answer is fundamental to how we build our sites and how we allow the user community into the site. If search was so good then theoretically we wouldn't need deep linking. But we know that despite the squillions that are spent on search it is still an imperfect art. Getting a lot better - but still pretty naff. And there is a good set of reasons to this. Most websites are still first generation affairs still relying on the same logic that got them onto the web in the first place. People got fat dumb and lazy and frankly scared to fix something. So company websites tend to be largely imperfect affairs of a spaghetti like mess of inconsistent blocks of data (don't you DARE call them information). The user is FORCED to hash through them looking for good quality data that they can use. If you don't believe me - just try searching for your number one product or attribute on your website and see what gets returned. Go on - try it - I dare you (with acknowledgment to the late Robert Conrad). I think it should be comulsory that a company's CEO and top management team must all sit in a room with their customer service staff and show them how well they navigate around their company's shop window - aka the website. It would be a wake up call.
For me - I pretty soon get cheesed off with the search facility on the site and almost always end up using navigation which in turn is inconsistent and often leads to to seeing SO many broken links and poor results. (Not to mention all the circular loops that poor nav leads me to).
The premise that any information is better than no information seems to drive a lot of people's thinking. It is why we all have Web ADD. WE just don't get a good experience so we keep looking until we get what we want. Or until we lose interest. Which seems to be the majority of the cases.
Back to our question of the day. Gerry McGovern's piece this week argues that Navigation is more important than search. Aha - for once I disagree with him. It is BOTH. They are the yin and yang of your business. You need them both and one without the other is to upset the natural rhythm of the universe. BUT you have to make sure that they work both in tandem as well as individually.
Too few people forget that - don't you be one of them...
So back to dealing with control freaks - here is a little article for you to enjoy.
Cheers and Happy Sunday.