UNDERSTANDING
USERS’ SEARCH INTENT
Mags Hanley
Search Solutions 2013
27 November 2013
WHAT DO I MEAN
‘SEARCH INTENT’?
What do users want?

Problem or need

Content, services or
products

Enterprise, company
or service

Good
search
results
Example
The kids are off
for half-term

Things to do
Museums
Theatre
Kids’ activities

Events in
London

Kids’
workshop
at...
EXERCISE IN INTENT AND
FACETS
Results
Term

Users’ intent

Facet/ structure

free

I’m cheap.

Pricing

brunch

Full English vs. eggs benedict

Mealtime...
What does this exercise show us?
• Know the content in context
• Les Miserables in London – theatre, movie, DVD,
• Les Mis...
What’s urban music?
It’s black - NY

It’s a scene - London
SEARCH SYSTEMS
Search system

Peter Morville – In Defence of Search – December 7, 2001
http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/...
USERS’ INTENT
Modes of information seeking

Marcia Bates – Modes of Information Seeking
Http://gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/bates/articles/inf...
Supporting intent in the search interface

OR
What

Where
Clapham
Clapham
Clapham Common
Clapham Junction

When
All dates
...
Other search input models
Gig finder
1. Choose a music genre
All (1234)
Blues, roots & country(62)
Cabaret & standards (9)
...
Facet use in different countries
Paris facet use

New York facet use
Facet use in different countries
London facet use
CONTENT STRUCTURED
TO SUPPORT INTENT
Matching intent in the content
Does it match what users are looking for?
Some examples:
• Product numbers of panel boards ...
Location in London
Levels of granularity
• Postcode (TW9 2SU)
• Street (Oxford St)
• Town/village (Hammersmith, Camden)
• ...
PRESENTING RESULTS
TO SUPPORT INTENT
Support intent in the results
• Search results – do you show the information in the

results people are asking? Enough to ...
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Activities
• Review your search logs and interface analytics
• Analyse the interface and failing searches to see intent an...
Thank you

Mags Hanley
Twitter: @magshanley
LinkedIn:
uk.linkedin.com/pub/margaret-hanley/0/180/3a5/
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Searching with intent

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How to understand and design search for users.

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  • Telstra Intranet example as wellAnnual leaveDocumentation for their departmentInformation seeking, as apposed to interaction
  • Understand intent by: Search logs from the search engineThey way they use the results – facet patterns and most clicked on elements
  • Which one:Is easier to develop on?Can I apply my facets?Follows the users’ intent?What about advanced search?Domain searchesDirected browse
  • Combinations of search that meet the mental model for that type of content
  • Searching with intent

    1. 1. UNDERSTANDING USERS’ SEARCH INTENT Mags Hanley Search Solutions 2013 27 November 2013
    2. 2. WHAT DO I MEAN ‘SEARCH INTENT’?
    3. 3. What do users want? Problem or need Content, services or products Enterprise, company or service Good search results
    4. 4. Example The kids are off for half-term Things to do Museums Theatre Kids’ activities Events in London Kids’ workshop at the Science Museum
    5. 5. EXERCISE IN INTENT AND FACETS
    6. 6. Results Term Users’ intent Facet/ structure free I’m cheap. Pricing brunch Full English vs. eggs benedict Mealtimes jazz My music tastes are sophisticated. It’s a logical place to find this information. Music genres Les Miserables Is the DVD out for Christmas? Name I want to see the theatre musical. Italian Pasta anyone? Cuisine Shoreditch What’s local to me? Area kids It’s half term, what can we do? Audience today I’m bored – what can I do? Date clubbing Let’s dance! Subject
    7. 7. What does this exercise show us? • Know the content in context • Les Miserables in London – theatre, movie, DVD, • Les Miserables in Paris – book, play, movie, DVD • Know the time of the year • Today – immediacy of the search – ‘Give me something good’ • Ice skating – in winter • Festivals – in summer • Know the users’ mental model in context • Location – zone, village and postcode • Music terms per country, even though music is international
    8. 8. What’s urban music? It’s black - NY It’s a scene - London
    9. 9. SEARCH SYSTEMS
    10. 10. Search system Peter Morville – In Defence of Search – December 7, 2001 http://semanticstudios.com/publications/semantics/000004.php
    11. 11. USERS’ INTENT
    12. 12. Modes of information seeking Marcia Bates – Modes of Information Seeking Http://gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/bates/articles/info_SeekSearch-i-030329.html
    13. 13. Supporting intent in the search interface OR What Where Clapham Clapham Clapham Common Clapham Junction When All dates Search
    14. 14. Other search input models Gig finder 1. Choose a music genre All (1234) Blues, roots & country(62) Cabaret & standards (9) Classical & opera (96) Dance music (25) Folk (87) Jazz (67) Kids' music (25) Pop, rock & hip-hop (87) R & B (56) World (76) 2. Choose a date March Today | Tomorrow | This weekend W T F S S M T W T F S S M T 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | >>
    15. 15. Facet use in different countries Paris facet use New York facet use
    16. 16. Facet use in different countries London facet use
    17. 17. CONTENT STRUCTURED TO SUPPORT INTENT
    18. 18. Matching intent in the content Does it match what users are looking for? Some examples: • Product numbers of panel boards and switches, searched by contractors and engineers. The company didn’t structure the content to allow this to happen. • Sort codes and branch details for a retail bank • Mealtimes in Time Out – more popular than cuisines. Is the content tagged or have keywords in the content?
    19. 19. Location in London Levels of granularity • Postcode (TW9 2SU) • Street (Oxford St) • Town/village (Hammersmith, Camden) • Area (South-West London) • City-wide (London) • How do we allow people to search them all? Do we even capture this information?
    20. 20. PRESENTING RESULTS TO SUPPORT INTENT
    21. 21. Support intent in the results • Search results – do you show the information in the results people are asking? Enough to make a decision? • Business goals – are you consciously showing the content the business wants to promote? Does it enhance the user experience? • Content types – are we showing the information people want? More events for a music search; more venues for restaurant search.
    22. 22. WHAT CAN YOU DO?
    23. 23. Activities • Review your search logs and interface analytics • Analyse the interface and failing searches to see intent and understand ways to change it • Test it in usability sessions – talk aloud when typing in queries and what the people expected the results to be • Understand your content and how it matches to the intent of the users • Structure the content better and leverage in the interface or query engine
    24. 24. Thank you Mags Hanley Twitter: @magshanley LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/pub/margaret-hanley/0/180/3a5/

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