In a recent article by Stefanie Olsen of the New York Times she describes some of the things that Search Engines do to make using them a little easier such as using the Arial typeface because its considered more legible than other typefaces or bolding keywords in the link and snippets of your results pages. And as we all know, “search” is not perfect at the best of times. Or what do you do if you get stuck? Now what if you are a kid?
As you might expect things get a little more difficult right from the start. Why? Think about how search works for a moment. Search is based upon entering a keyword(s), which requires the use semantics & language. A child’s grasp of language is typically less than that of an adult, who also tend to be the ones creating much of the content that children are seeking. Children also tend to think about things as questions, not as a straight keyword entry. Now, what about the goals of a child might differ from an adult – for starters how about using search as a starting point for homework? Again, well, what can I say — it sucks to be a kid of you are using a search engine.
So if children are already at a deficient when it comes to search what can be done to help them?
One simple method by showing related searches or other content like video, images or news at the bottom of the page. A search on the word dolphins, for example, shows a set of related searches, (sharks, bottlenose dolphins) and two YouTube videos of dolphins at play. Ms. Druin called the bottom of the screen “valuable territory” because children often focus on their hands and the keyboard when they search and see that space first when they glance up.
Stefan Weitz, director of Bing, said that for certain types of tasks, like finding a list of American presidents, people found answers 28 percent faster with a search of images rather than of text. He said that because Bing used more imagery than other search engines, it attracted more children. Microsoft says Bing’s audience of 2- to 17-year-olds has grown 76 percent since May. “My daughter who’s 5, her typing skills aren’t great, but she can browse images of various dog breeds through visual search,” Mr. Weitz said.
Future trends in search may also be helpful to children. The move toward voice-activated search like the Google voice search on iPhones and Android phones and audio and video search will prove beneficial to children with limited abilities, experts say.
Just a quick update on some new features that Google Analytics is now providing – post
Be sure to check out the “Annotations” feature and video. It is what I consider one of those “Doh! Why didn’t we have it this all along” features that would make a User Experience professional proud to have figured out the disconnect between an offline task and something that should be part of the system. Enjoy!
As some of you may or may not know, Google Analytics is a free enterprise analytics tool that lets you track various actions that your visitors take on your site. Recently they’ve been adding some great new features that hep you not only track visitors better, but better data analysis to gain greater insights to help you make better decisions.
In my new post, www.markohurst.com, I break these features down one-by-one and included some videos in case you don’t have Google Analytics or would like to see it in action.
Just a quick note those interested in seeing some experimenting that Google is doing right now I have the code to grant you access. Just following the instructions http://bit.ly/7WgKjT
When most of us think about search engine result pages (SERPs) we often think of and therefore often revert to designing “list results”. We can thank Google & Yahoo for that. When it comes to displaying copy (articles, blogs, etc) based content that’s all well and good for your SERPs need to be scannable and contain text, but what about when results that can be chosen visually, such as an image/video gallery or eCommerce products? Then a “grid view” becomes a great option, or does it? The answer is… “it depends”.
It depends because in the wonderful world where UX and Web Analytics are woven together the experience that you are designing for is (should be) first rooted in a business goal (yes even before a user goal, trust me) and the decisions that you make along the way affect the outcome(s) of that goal(s). Do you want the majority of your clicks going to the first item or would you like them spread out? That decision alone could mean thousands or even millions of dollars to you or your client. How about how many to show on an entire page or in a single row? Will 4, 5, or 10 make the most impact? What questions should you ask your analytics people? The possibilities alone can be maddening to ponder, not to mention what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that actually mean something useful (and I don’t mean pageviews and bounce rates) that can be tied to your design so it can be optimized over time.
Fortunately along with best practices there is a great deal of things that we analytics folks can measure and inform you about. And when those measurements are tied to a Monetization Model (a business model that guides you on how you will make or save money) things quickly fall into place. Lou and I have talked quite a lot on this and is something I use on all of my projects, so we’ll be including it in the book, as well as future posts, but in the mean time we found a lovely post to wet your appetite. Enjoy! Displaying Search Results: Grid View or List View?”
Special invite to speak to the US Environmental Protection Agency…
Typically for anyone who has ever tried to find, well, anything on a government website has found it is easier to find what they were looking for Goolge or Yahoo. But, every once in awhile someone understands that it takes more than just technology to serve good results. And with that I’m very excited to announce that I’ve been selected to speak at the EPA Search Summit and will be able to advise the on their EPA’s future Search Strategy, www.epa.gov.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is gathering a small panel of experts for a Search Summit at the EPA’s offices in Arlington, VA on September 21, 2009. The purpose of the summit is to discuss the vision, goals and technical alternatives for developing an EPA Search Strategy.
The EPA is currently analyzing the way it shares information with the public. In the Agency’s opening round of research, a broad spectrum of participants identified their inability to find environmental information, particularly using the Agency’s search engine, as a major source of dissatisfaction. As a result of these findings, SRA International is working with EPA to develop a Search Strategy that will address the entire ecosystem for finding Agency information, including content, metadata, processes, partnerships, technology and policy.
Last Thursday I gave a talk to the NY Content Strategy Group on how to apply search analysis to content. This was actually the first time that I gave my talk on this topic to a non-web analytics (WA) crowd. While not nervous, I admit I was not sure how it would be perceived. I am glad to report that it was very successful and touted “as the best yet”. (I do have the email to back that statement up!)
What stands out most in my mind about that talk is this…
- After seeing and now knowing what data, metrics, & reports are available the audience was now able and comfortable with going to ask their SEO, Web Analytics, etc the right questions
- For those that were relying on themselves (no WA person) that had the basic tools and knowledge of how to use data they had access to make decisions based on that data
- And what struck me most, while it was a point I tried to drive home time and time again, was that a good amount of them came up after and said they now see the value in breaking down the walls and that UX & WA can work together
So, with that I’m very pleased to share with you the presentation I gave. I (we) really do appreciate any feedback that you can provide (positive & negative). Enjoy!
How do you apply web analytics to design & prove ROI when you don’t sell anything? Brand & most company websites are the perfect examples of sites where ‘gut feelings’ or the attitude ‘we’re not selling anything’, so we don’t need analytics. But you are running a business, aren’t you? You do want to make you bonus, don’t you?
Thinking of a site as just a ‘brand site’ is harmful to your company &/or you clients. If you have the attitude of ‘if we’re not selling something, we can’t show ROI’, well, first of all you’d be wrong. Secondly I can prove you wrong. But what I’d rather do is have you learn how to apply what in analytics we call “online business models” and apply KPIs (key performance indicators) to all your designs and experiences. The real change is simply not thinking of a site as a ‘brand site, but instead as a Lead Generation site. What that term might mean something to most people, it means something very specific in analytics. I also show you some screen shots of a few analytics reports such as Funnel Analysis & Multivariate testing, as well as what to do with them. I use Tide.com as my example, to show how a brand/CPG website can benefit from web analytics, including KPIs for Lead Generation websites.
All my notes are included in my slides, I encourage you to read them along with the slides. This is a very short presentation and the first is series I’m doing on each of the business models.
After taking some time off for a new baby boy and traveling to two eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summits in the last month, including speaking for my first time on our book in Madrid at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and I’m glad to be back in NYC and writing again.
So, Lou and I have been talking about this top-down & bottom-up approach to data for awhile now and Lou recently spoke a couple of times on “marrying your data“, but what we haven’t shown you is actually what I call ‘real top-down’ analysis. Given that quantitative data analysis much more my specialty than Lou’s (I am the one with those little Greek letters on my pajamas after all), I thought it was high time I showed everyone what we mean.
Here’s my Keynote presentation for eMetrics Madrid:
The presentation includes a few new things we’ve not discussed previously, such as:
- the 6 components of a search experience and analysis techniques for each
- how to determine the best character length for your search query box
- information foraging and information scent
- search behaviors/patterns (when/why we search)
- how to improve SEO/SEM with search data
- my “scientific method” for determining the quality of a search engine (slide 5)
- and of course some good ‘ol top-down ‘traditional’ search analytics reports & analysis
Please tell us your thoughts and give us some feedback. We’d really love to hear from you on this one.
I assume many of you out there aren’t familiar with too many if any analytics tools, but you’ve at least heard of Google Analytics. If you are totally new to analytics or would like to see or learn a little more about some of the things I talk about I’d suggest Google Analytics and Google Conversion University as good starting point.
Google Analytics was like when you had training wheels on your bike. You thought you were cool, because you could do something you couldn’t do before, but eventually you grow up (some of us anyway) and want something more powerful or useful, like the Ducati Monster, but I digress. Consider it a life stage that eventually you transition out of and that’s where Yahoo! is going to step in to you life.
Back in April Yahoo! announced its acquisition of IndexTools. There were a difference in opinions throughout the industry as to what this might mean, but what no one is denying is how powerful IndexTools was and should remain. IndexTools was an enterprise class solution that in many ways was superior to (insert you analytics platform of choice), because it did the one thing very well that no one else does well at all… Data Analysis. You see for the most part, analytics platforms are really giant “reporting tools”. Which means that the tool gathers data and regurgitates that data it just collected back to you in prettier format. Sadly, this is what most people spend WAY tooooo much time doing, building and looking at reports. This is BAD! VERY BAD! But what’s worse is that this activity almost always proves useless and futile when compared to what is gained from it, which is very little.
Think about this way, I can train a monkey to generate all those pretty reports. In fact I don’t even need the monkey, because I can automate those reports. What you need and want is the ability to ANALYZE that data to weed out what you don’t need, look at only what you need, and from that find the action or actions (actionable insights) that will move your company/client/website/etc “up and to the right”, (the positive and correct direction). And that is what humans are needed for.
This is what Yahoo! Analytics has the potential to do. While other solutions just give you the data, IndexTools (previously) made you work at it in a good way. It allowed you to group and create whatever you needed to create custom reports (as opposed to canned reports) for data analysis. The difference is slight, but here’s the premise… We can just give you the data and hope you will know what to do with it. Or we can make you think about what you are trying to do first and then maybe, just maybe, if you slow down enough to understand what you want you will understand why you want it, which should drive you to discovering the almighty “actionable insights”.
Currently no new members are being accepted, but Yahoo! is now accepting contact info to be notified when it’s fully released, which I hope is soon. If nothing else, so they don’t make a liar out of everything I just said about them!