A Model of Consumer Search Behaviour

A Model of Consumer Search Behaviour by Tony Russell-Rose.

From the post:

A couple of weeks ago I posted the slides to my talk at EuroHCIR on A Model of Consumer Search Behaviour. Finally, as promised, here is the associated paper, which is co-authored with Stephann Makri (and also available as a pdf in the proceedings). I hope it addresses the questions that the slide deck provoked, and provides further food for thought 🙂


In order to design better search experiences, we need to understand the complexities of human information-seeking behaviour. In previous work [13], we proposed a model of information behavior based on an analysis of the information needs of knowledge workers within an enterprise search context. In this paper, we extend this work to the site search context, examining the needs and behaviours of users of consumer-oriented websites and search applications.

We found that site search users presented significantly different information needs to those of enterprise search, implying some key differences in the information behaviours required to satisfy those needs. In particular, the site search users focused more on simple “lookup” activities, contrasting with the more complex, problem-solving behaviours associated with enterprise search. We also found repeating patterns or ‘chains’ of search behaviour in the site search context, but in contrast to the previous study these were shorter and less complex. These patterns can be used as a framework for understanding information seeking behaviour that can be adopted by other researchers who want to take a ‘needs first’ approach to understanding information behaviour.

Take the time to read the paper.

How would you test the results?

Placeholder: Probably beyond the bounds of the topic maps course but a guest lecture on designing UI tests could be very useful for library students. They will be selecting interfaces to be used by patrons and knowing how to test candidate interfaces could be valuable.

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