• http://jambecorp.blogspot.com James

    I’m very pleased to see that Google are doing ethnographic studies, and proper usability testing. I really is a pain that the people making this products are not the typical users of them. I run into this all the time in my job, a computer person in an academic library, because I am not a librarian or (to any significant level) a library user. I constantly have to consult or at least try to think from a different perspective.

    We did some usability testing on some Institutional Repository solutions here recently and I was surprised at the number of usability issues that are so clearly identified with them. If you (I mean you in the general sense, not = Bill Slawski) have never done a usability study before, I recommend it even if just so that you can see the kinds of things and ‘average’ user struggles with… I think you will be surprised.

  • http://www.seobythesea.com Bill Slawski

    Hi James,

    I was pretty encouraged by the thoroughness, and thoughtfulness that went into Dan Russell’s (and Google’s) approach to trying to make sense of the information they were receiving from users, and that they were so concerned about collecting a wide range of information involving different methods.

    I didn’t highlight some of the issues that they came across, but one of the more interesting ones was their discovery that most people don’t understand the minus search operator “-” as something that you use to exclude certain words from results. The more common real world approach to it is that it acts like an indication of something you want to specifically include (sort of like an indication of a suffix). The example they gave was:

    wheat free -recipes

    Someone was trying to use that set of terms to find allergy free recipes which didn’t use wheat products. A lot of other searchers were using that minus operator in a similar way.

  • http://www.netexperienced.com mfshearer

    I am a believer that a fair portion of novice internet users have become so acclimated to just searching for stuff, even if they know the website url. I say this because of the web analytics at my j-o-b. Literally half of web searches to our site are iterations of our business name (we are an online university) and at least 75% of our web traffic are repeat visitors (have to go to our home page to log-in to your classroom). So people just punch in “University name here” into Google and click-through (and over 5,000 times last month they clicked on our PPC campaign). Instead of using bookmarks or typing the url direct (i don’t blame them, it is a subdomain), they use Google to get where the already know they are going. So the search engines are obviously more than just for researching and finding things you don’t yet know, but seem to be a common tool for simply getting to predetermined sites as simple as possible.