Search Patterns is not a technical book: it’s about design and user experience. It’s about what people prefer, what people are used to and what people would benefit most from when it comes to searching. And no, it’s not just about searching the web at the desktop: the book also presents some examples of searching on your mobile or even on TV and on kiosks.
The book starts reflecting on how search is so often synonym of “the box”. We are now at a moment in time when we need to question that box and think outside of it.
The anatomy of search, as the authors put it, is made of five elements: users, interface, engine, content and creators. All these elements influence and most support several patterns of behavior.
How can we change design to improve the search experience is a key part of this book. A whole chapter is dedicated to the principles of search design:
- incremental construction
- progressive disclosure
- immediate response
- alternate views
- recognition over recall
- minimal disruption
- direct manipulation
- context of use.
And then, we go into the design patterns:
- best first
- federated search
- faceted navigation
- advanced search
- structured results
- actionable results
- unified discovery.
Search Patterns is not the type of book I typically review for KMOL. So, why did I decide to review it? Three reasons.
First, I am unfortunately too aware of how user experience design is so often disregarded. And, yet, it can be a make or break in a project. It is important to help non-designers see the impact it can have and provide guidelines, ideas and examples of how to do it better.
Second, knowledge management is a lot more than the tools and certainly a lot more than data and information. However, finding information, data and knowledge, easily, in the right format and when we most need it is one of the main challenges of organisations today. Looking at this challenge from the “search” perspective is a great complement to the usual KMers perspective: creation and storage.
Third, search is like an octopus that extends its arms in many different directions, feeding from and impacting many different areas. Reflecting about search is reflecting about people, information architecture, taxonomy, context, business strategy, etc.. And these are all core to proper, strategic knowledge management.
I have to say I really enjoyed the book. It’s written in a simple, yet almost poetic, way and includes loads of illustrated examples. It’s a great book for designers and user experience professionals, but also information science professionals, developers and knowledge management professionals.
In the book’s companion site you can find information about the authors and also many of the examples shared in the book – Peter Morville and Jeffery Callender.
Note: Resumo em português disponível aqui.