Designing Search: Displaying Results

Designing Search: Displaying Results by Tony Russell-Rose.

From the post:

Search is a conversation: a dialogue between user and system that can be every bit as rich as human conversation. Like human dialogue, it is bidirectional: on one side is the user with their information need, which they articulate as some form of query.

On the other is the system and its response, which it expresses a set of search results. Together, these two elements lie at the heart of the search experience, defining and shaping much of the information seeking dialogue. In this piece, we examine the most universal of elements within that response: the search result.

Basic Principles

Search results play a vital role in the search experience, communicating the richness and diversity of the overall result set, while at the same time conveying the detail of each individual item. This dual purpose creates the primary tension in the design: results that are too detailed risk wasting valuable screen space while those that are too succinct risk omitting vital information.

Suppose you’re looking for a new job, and you browse to the 40 or so open positions listed on UsabilityNews. The results are displayed in concise groups of ten, occupying minimal screen space. But can you tell which ones might be worth pursuing?

As always a great post by Tony but a little over the top with:

“…a dialogue between user and system that can be every bit as rich as human conversation.”

Not in my experience but that’s not everyone’s experience.

Has anyone tested the thesis that dialogue between a user and search engine is as rich as between user and reference librarian?

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