(As presented at the 2019 Information Architecture Conference in Orlando, FL. A written version of this talk is available at http://bit.ly/npr-search)
Google has become synonymous with search, and voice platforms like Alexa are changing expectations from lists of potential results to a single "right" answer. In the face of well-performing, well-funded competitors like these, it might be tempting to throw in the towel entirely and assume that building your own site search or app search are no longer needed. However, in truth, search has never been more important to driving great user experiences than it is today.
To start, we'll look through some examples of content and navigational search done well and talk about why they work—for instance, Netflix responding to searches for films they don't currently have available for streaming with automated suggestions of similar films. We'll also look at some missed opportunities—for example, Washington Post not returning any relevant results for a search on "subscription" or "home delivery", or Wolfram|Alpha returning images of a moose when the user searches for pictures of a deer (because, obviously, a moose is part of the deer family!). We'll next discuss the changing audience expectations that users bring with them when they open search on your website or app—and what you can do to meet and exceed those expectations. Finally, we'll take a look into the crystal ball to see what today's technology developments (Voice! AR/VR! Machine Learning!) might hold for the future of homegrown search applications.