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Information seeking behaviours: And how to design for them

Donna Spencer
October 09, 2009

Information seeking behaviours: And how to design for them

When people use websites and intranets they are doing more than just ‘finding’ information. They may be looking for something they know about or exploring something brand new; filtering through large volumes then comparing results; getting an overview of a topic or diving deep. They may even think they want to find one thing, but actually need something entirely different.

Each of these information behaviours needs very different approaches to information architecture, information design and page layout. During this presentation, Donna will talk about each information behaviour, its key attributes, key design needs, and show good and bad examples of each.

Donna Spencer

October 09, 2009

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  1. About me • Freelance user experience designer  Information architecture,

    interaction design, content  Website, intranet, business applications  Design, strategy, mentoring  Workshops & writing • Book: Card sorting: Designing usable categories  http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/cardsorting/ • Mini e‐book ‐ web content writing  Rockstar press (soon) • Events: UX Australia • @maadonna
  2. Many behaviours • Known item finding • Exploring • Refining

    & narrowing • Comparing & selecting • Getting just an overview • Getting lots of detail • Discovering unknown things • Re‐finding
  3. Known item finding • You have a clear idea of

    what you want • You can describe it • You know where to start • You know when you have finished • Eg  Looking for a particular book on Amazon  Looking for a definition of a term  Checking the price of a product you know about  Checking a store has a product
  4. Known item finding • Design solutions  Search  Index

    (e.g. A‐Z)  Browse (as long as the path is short)
  5. Exploring • You have a fuzzy idea of what you

    want • You can’t always describe it clearly • You know where to start • You know when you have finished • Eg  Finding out how to make navigation work in wordpress  Learning how our brains learn  Looking for examples of a design solution  Looking for new music
  6. Exploring • Design solutions  Search often doesn’t works as

    terminology is unknown (though it may be used as a starter)  Browse  Variety of starting points  Related links
  7. Refining & narrowing • There are many different products or

    items to choose from • User has some criteria • Refine & narrow to make the list of options smaller • Often followed by a compare task • E.g.  You have thought about what’s important in your next car, but are not sure which type to buy  You have ideas for dinner, but not a recipe  You know what you want for your next phone, but have not chosen the brand/model
  8. Comparing • Compare similar items • May be within or

    across sites • Eg  Comparing individual phones from one retailer  Comparing phone plans across providers • Design issues  Need to know what features are important  Allow easy visual comparison  Need a flexible interface to allow appropriate # of products
  9. Filter & compare example Imagine you want to buy your

    next mobile phone. What features are important to you? Sketch two interfaces: • One to narrow down the list of phones • One to lets you compare 3‐5 phones.
  10. Getting a broad idea • Someone just wants to get

    the ‘gist’ of the topic, not know everything about it • E.g.  Main findings from a research project  Why is climate change important  What’s this ‘twitter’ thing everyone’s talking about
  11. Getting a broad idea • Design solutions  Ensure summary

    material is available, linking to detailed  Allow skimming & scanning  Write in a simple, easy to digest way  Use diagrams & case studies to give a broad view  Include snapshots, ‘at‐a‐glance’
  12. Discovering unknown things • Sometimes people start out with something

    in mind, but there is more than they know about • You know there is more than the user expects • Known item and exploratory tasks • Design solutions  Suggestions (eg amazon)  Guided learning  Related information  Simple in‐context links
  13. Refinding • Finding things you’ve seen before • Design solutions

     Services that only do this  Explicit: sign in and explicitly save  Implicit: sign in and implicitly save  Implicit: save without sign in (see if ebay & amazon do this without being signed in)
  14. ??

  15. So what? • Use your user research to see what

    people need to do  Known item finding  Exploring  Refining & narrowing  Comparing & selecting  Getting just an overview  Getting lots of detail  Discovering unknown things  Re‐finding • Design approaches for each behaviour