When you’re preparing a newspaper for the world of on-line news, helping your audience find the information they need is paramount.
Anders M Olausson, CTO of hd.se (a local Swedish newspaper/site) ponders the problem.
According to Google only 1% of the searches uses “advanced search”. It’s a remarkable low figure if you think about how tough some people think it is to find what they are looking for. But then it struck me, is it advanced to use “Advanced search”? Not particularly.
In this example we want to find an interview in the local news with our old childhood friend Michael Bolton about a successful business he started a while ago. We know they are selling some specific type of stylish furniture, but we’re not quite sure if it is chairs or tables, though.
Boy, would he have been easier to find on the Internet if somebody with the same name hadn’t started winning Grammys when our friend was 12 years old! So how do we avoid going through more a 2.5+ million hits worth of music related sites?
Either we use a complex search pattern like this:
furniture chairs OR tables “Michael Bolton” -music site:hd.se
That’s fine for the technically astute, but what about the rest of wo/mankind?
Or, we could use the ‘Advanced search’ function and simply fill out the fields like this:
With all these words: furniture
With the exact phrase: Michael Bolton
With one of these words: chairs tables
Without these words: music
OK, that works but how do we get them to use the Advanced Search, beyond the 1% that currently are?
As site builders, it’s in our interest to make it as easy as possible for our visitors – we want them to find our articles.
It doesn’t matter how good GUI is that we build, we always need to make it easy to search the site.
I think we scare people if we call it “Advanced Search” as even the name excludes people from clicking it as it sounds threatening or difficult to use.
But what shall we call it and how do we encourage people to feel more comfortable with it?
I want visitors to understand that Advanced Search actually is Easy Search or Better Search.
I reckon the best way to do this is to encourage larger companies, like Google to change their approach and actually change the name on “Advanced Search” to something more welcoming, and try to make it some kind of standard.