Four Faces of Search

July 25, 2014

by Tyler Tate

Enterprise Search London with Bloomberg and Elasticsearch

March 24, 2014

by Tyler Tate

A Look Back at 2013

January 15, 2014

by Tyler Tate

Information Wayfinding

November 07, 2013

by Tyler Tate

We are drowning in information. As more and more data floods in, we find ourselves in a state of information anxiety. Big data is today's buzzword of choice; people like to talk about using clever technology to make sense of big data. I would suggest, however, that big data is not a technology problem. It's a people problem. I believe the question that we need to ask is this: How can we make ever-growing volumes of information accessible and useful to people without overwhelming them?

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What search means to Vodafone

October 01, 2013

by Stefan Olafsson

Providing meaningful answers to a diverse set of queries can be challenging at the best of times, especially for organisations that provide a service to millions.

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The London Search Meetup is Back

February 12, 2013

by Tyler Tate

The London Search Meetup is back. Yesterday evening we held the first event of 2013: a book-themed event featuring Martin White discussing his new book, Enterprise Search, as well as Tony Russell-Rose and myself talking about Designing the Search Experience.

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A Handbook for Designing Search

January 29, 2013

by Tyler Tate

Search is ubiquitous. It has become embedded in our daily lives — not just for fact-finding, but from shopping and cooking to listening and watching. At the same time, organizations have embraced this disruptive technology to solve business problems, from increasing productivity, to making more informed strategic decisions, to providing better experiences for customers. While the potential of search is tremendous, many search experiences don't measure up. We've all been there — broken buttons, irrelevant results, confusing interfaces. From the beginning, Twigkit has endeavoured to close this gap between reality and the ideal. Our rapid-development framework and library of refined user interface components have made it easier than ever before to deliver a superb search experience.

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Designing Mobile Search

May 18, 2012

by Tyler Tate

In 2010 there were more computers manufactured than mobile devices—but just barely. Starting in 2011, the number of smartphones and tablets began outpacing the number laptops and desktops being sold. While these devices are being purchased primarily by consumers rather than corporate IT departments, there's a growing trend to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work. Mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous—both at home and at work. Search has long been the de facto method for interacting with information, and mobile devices are no different. Yet the temptation to replicate desktop-oriented user interface conventions on mobile devices is far from ideal. That's why designing mobile search is an important topic.

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Design Principles for Mobile Search

January 13, 2012

by Tyler Tate

Apple's iOS Human Interface Guidelines, Google's Android Design Guidlines, and others such as Luke Wroblewski's Mobile First book provide valuable guidance for designing general mobile applications. Yet there are a number of design principles unique to crafting mobile search experiences in particular. Namely: prioritizing content over controls, providing answers over results, being sensitive to context, and ensuring cross-channel continuity.

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Mobile Information Needs

December 06, 2011

by Tyler Tate

Mobile is the new desktop. The adoption of mobile Internet makes the introduction of the World Wide Web seeming glacial by comparison; Morgan Stanley predicts that mobile Internet usage will outpace desktop-based access in just three years. Search—or information seeking more broadly—is pivotal to circumnavigating this convergence of the digital and physical worlds. But before designing experiences for the new frontier, we must first grasp the needs of users. Specifically, we must understand the information needs of mobile users.

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Book Review: Search Analytics by Lou Rosenfeld

October 13, 2011

by Tyler Tate

Search Analytics for Your Site: Conversations with Your Customers is a very practical guide on how to exploit query logs to improve your company’s search experience. Lou outlines a collection of simple but potent techniques for analyzing search logs, spotting insightful patterns, and putting those insights to use.

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The Social Side of Search

September 26, 2011

by Tyler Tate

Information seeking is situated within a backdrop of social activity. While your fingers alone may type a query into the search box, our need for declarative (know-what) and procedural (know-how) knowledge — as well as the means by which we acquire it — is inseparably intertwined with other people.

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Redesigning Wikipedia's Search

August 19, 2011

by Tyler Tate

Yesterday was the deadline to submit a redesign of Wikipedia's search page to the [search design contest](http://design.greplin.com/) organized by [Greplin](https://www.greplin.com/). While the contest isn't officially endorsed by Wikipedia, we found the challenge too much fun to turn down. Most people use Google to search Wikipedia. What's broken about Wikipedia's search?

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Revisiting Faceted Navigation

July 29, 2011

by Tyler Tate

Today I've been experimenting with a different take on faceted navigation. TwigKit's current facet widget is already robust -- it displays both flat and hierarchical facets, it's expandable, it allows users to exclude a given filter, the list continues.

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A Call for High Quality, Open Source Demo Data

May 20, 2011

by Tyler Tate

There is a huge need for a standard corpus of high-quality, free-to-use demo data. When building search applications, for instance, getting your hands on actual data can be near impossible, forcing you to design for unrealistic situations and compromising the end result. Well-rounded demo data would help ensure you're working towards the right target.

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Why Developers Should Become UX Designers

April 08, 2011

by Tyler Tate

Why do you code? It's probably not just for a paycheck (lets face it, there are plenty of boring jobs out there that pay the bills). Maybe you code because you like working with the latest technology, or perhaps you take pleasure in crafting concise, elegant solutions to tough problems. Did I hear you say, "I code to deliver value to users"? Hmm, didn't think so. But you're not alone. Designers have their own set of motivations devoid of the user, from seeking the praise of others to creating a work of art. It's imperative that both designers and developers fight against our natural inclinations and treat the user as king. Whatever you're working on, whether it's an API for a payment gateway or a new request handler for Solr, you're building it for the people who will use it. Want to become a better developer? Then start designing the user experience.

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Why Designers Should Care

March 30, 2011

by Tyler Tate

The designer triumvirate of information architects, user experience professionals, and interaction designers have a potent skill set for creating smooth, delightful experiences for users. While those skills are masterfully applied to browse-based navigation, search is far too often an afterthought. Afterthought search leaves just one leg for the experience to stand on, crippling usability. Designers must be concerned with both sides of the coin. If browse has been the pervasive mode of interaction since the GUI was invented in 1984, Big Data is ensuring that search will be the prevailing mode of tomorrow.

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Search as a Flow Experience

February 09, 2011

by Tyler Tate

When was the last time that you were “in the zone”? Do you remember being so absorbed in an activity that you forgot about the outside world, time seemed to fade away, and you felt invigorated? Maybe you’re an avid tennis player and remember a rigorous game when you seemed on fire. Or perhaps you’re a musician and recall feeling as if the notes were flowing through your fingertips.

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A review of Foodily’s recipe search

February 01, 2011

by Tyler Tate

This past week I discovered a new recipe search engine called Foodily. Both the interaction and the visual design are superb, and Foodily makes use of several novel patterns that I thought would be worth pointing out.

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UI Components for Search

January 14, 2011

by Tyler Tate

Last week we published From Pattern to Component on UX Magazine and released a new section of our website revealing more about TwigKit’s user interface components. What gives?

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Search Solutions 2010 (BCS-IRSG)

October 21, 2010

by Tyler Tate

Today I was fortunate enough to attend the Search Solutions conference in London put on by the Information Retrieval Specialist Group of the British Computer Society. Here are my notes from each talk of the day.

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Why you should start your own search meetup

October 19, 2010

by Tyler Tate

About this time last year Stefan Olafsson and I were running around a search conference handing out hastily-prepared fliers to anyone who would take them. The fliers were advertising a brand new event about a month later that we were calling the “Enterprise Search London Meetup.”

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The Scent of Search

July 05, 2010

by Tyler Tate

Search is an evolutionary, iterative process. Like a Grizzly Bear foraging for food in the forest, people jump from one information source to the next as we seek to satisfy our curiosity. Presented at Apache Lucene EuroCon 2010 in Prague and as an article on Johnny Holland Magazine, “The Scent of Search” seeks to apply the principles of Information Foraging Theory and, in particular, Information Scent to the usability of search interfaces. Below are the main recommendations we set forth in the talk.

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The Google Redesign

May 05, 2010

by Tyler Tate

This morning I got out of bed, ate my cereal, took my shower. Everything was proceeding pretty predictably. But then I did a Google search — usually a pretty mundane task — but this morning, Google looked very different than it did yesterday. Word on the street is that Google is rolling this new design out to everyone over the next 48 hours. As with any change, some people are bound to complain, but I think the redesign introduces many significant improvements.

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ECIR Industry Day 2010

April 01, 2010

by Tyler Tate

The event consisted of 12 different speakers each presenting for exactly 20 minutes, with about 10 minutes of Q&A after each. I particularly enjoyed the presentations from the major search engines; Yahoo, Google, Bing, and Wolfram Alpha were all represented. A topic that seemed to arise in each of those talks was how query reformulation data can provide a feedback loop to make search better. But without further ado, here are my summaries of each talk.

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Search Suggestions

February 08, 2010

by Tyler Tate

You used to be expected to type for yourself. But today people have come to expect a reasonable amount of help at even this task. Our phones now help us form correctly-spelled words, our browsers fill in long addresses after we’ve typed only a few characters, and search engines recommend searching for “Humphrey Bogart” after we’ve typed just “boga.” But not all as-you-type search suggests are created equal. Careful observation seems to reveal three different approaches—completion, suggestion, and instant results. These approaches range in cognitive burden on the one hand, and utility on the other. We’ll look at several examples of each and consider when they should be used.

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Security in Search Applications

January 22, 2010

by Stefan Olafsson

When a search engine is brought to bear on content with restricted access, it becomes evident that security and preserving the integrity of permissions can be an important and often thorny issue.

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Making Data Meaningful

January 17, 2010

by Stefan Olafsson

Most modern enterprise search platforms provide some inherent capability to illustrate the shape and nature of the data within. Take for example faceted search. Facets will quickly break down the dimensions in all the data we’re storing or even just the stuff that meets our search criteria. In either case we can get some form of statistical feedback e.g. on which top-level categories exist, their names and how many documents each represents. Take this search for positions as a ‘project manager’ as an example. Using faceted search, we can quickly see that some of these are are in the ‘Engineering’ field, with still more for IT professionals.

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Behind the Scenes at ITV

January 14, 2010

by Tyler Tate

Just before Christmas we put the finishing touches on a prototype internal search application for British broadcaster ITV. We’ll be working with ITV in the coming months to roll out the application across their entire organisation, but we wanted to give you a sneak peak in the meantime.

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Common Problems with Pagination

December 19, 2009

by Tyler Tate

The purpose of search is to help people find what they're looking for as quickly as possible. Search engines attempt to facilitate this by taking the user's query and responding with results, placing what it thinks are the most relevant results first. Unfortunately, pagination doesn't always do the best job of guiding the user through the search results in the most beneficial manner. I've noticed three common problems.

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Precise to a Fault

December 05, 2009

by Tyler Tate

Can a number be so precise that it actually hinders users rather than assists them? Take search results for example. It is common practice to indicate the total number of results found for a given query. Google tells me that there are 221,000 web pages about 'rubber duckies,' while a recipe site indicates that there are 113 salads and 7 desserts with 'avocado'. I can think of two good reasons for why showing the number of search results has become a standard. First of all, it provides a sanity check. If “Barack Obamaaa” only returns 3 results, it is an indicator that I’ve made a mistake in my search query. Second, it helps me compare one collection with another. The fact that there are twice as many two bedroom flats as one bedroom flats in Greenwich informs me about the area.

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