Sunday, May 23, 2010

somethings about search

Web search has been a game changer in many ways. One of those ways is making users habituated to finding what they need, when they need it. Search has obviated the need to keep track of stuff on the internet anymore. What's more, users have come to expect search to work really, really well.

So when it doesn't, and people can't find what they thought was there, it becomes a matter of trust. That just the search part might be broken is not the first thing that they think: is the website just losing data?

If the internet were to be considered information organized as a tree, it would be two levels deep, with a search function as the root node.

Besides being a gateway to information, search is also the most natural way (as yet) users interact with computers - they type exactly what they are looking for. This is valuable information to gain insight about your users' intent.

If you are a website, are you letting users search? And, more importantly, search well?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

lean back and consider

John Battelle hits the nail on the head when he says news coverage in the tech industry is an "endless cycle of post and spin" when what is really needed is "leaning back and considering".

News coverage - and I am broadening the scope from just the tech industry to all news - can be split into two: (1) Facts, and (2) Opinion & Analysis.

Facts need to be comprehensive, correct, terse, and instantaneous. And not repeated.

Opinion and analysis add value by providing insight not immediately obvious at the fact. Balanced arguments and structured thought take some time to produce and consumers are willing to wait for this.

I think news coverage will increasingly polarize into these two kinds.

140 characters are enough to bring you facts, and consumers don't mind these facts being pushed to you constantly, throughout the day. When it comes to detailed analysis, consumers are going to be more selective, and open to engaging more closely through comments and "likes" and "shares". Also, the former is more of a commodity, while the latter is where experts and niches can be found.

And this last point is most important - especially for marketing and monetizing strategies of news organizations, small and large. There definitely are opportunities.