17 Replies Latest reply on Jul 1, 2010 5:19 PM by tmaurer

    Anyone else struggling to get people to think search?


      Our community currently has about 16,000 users and close to 1,000 social groups (note we don't allow spaces other than our help content).  In the last two weeks, I keep getting people who want to browse, but complain it takes too long to look at all the groups or all the people even if you narrow down to a common name.


      I keep reminding people to go to browse groups and then search what interests them or click a tag and find some relevant groups.  For people consider searching for a few, but as you join groups & interact follow the people you come across who are interesting.  It's crazy behavior to flip through 1000 groups 50 at a time, or look at all 70 Wolfgangs, etc.  I suspect I have a new roadblock to knock down.  Just wondering if others have addressed this already.

        • Re: Anyone else struggling to get people to think search?

          How is your home page set up? Ours has search really big in the middle to give it a "google" feel so folks stay with search.


          Hope you find that helpful!


          Sent from my T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide

          • Re: Anyone else struggling to get people to think search?

            Ted may have his own perspective on this, but what I remember is that during the first year we were using Jive, people kept trying to use Browse or some other form of navigation to find things because that was what they were used to doing. Or they would use search, but they would not use the short results and refine the keywords. They would ALWAYS click enter after typing in their keywords. We actually undertook some usability studies that showed this in great detail (and I would HIGHLY recommend doing this if you haven't - it can be very enlightening).


            While we haven't (yet) followed up on the usability studies, my sense is that after training and more familiarity, people have started using search more. But bear in mind that does come with its own problems, especially . when people don't tag their content or groups well.


            I don't have any silver bullet suggestions on how to solve this. A lot of it will come down to people finding ways of working in the tool that work for them. And lots of education from you as to the variety of ways they can work. Make sure they know how to use search, both the quick results and and complete results. And make sure they all understand the importance of tagging - because even if they aren't contributors now, they may be someday. And unless your authors are locking documents, even readers can edit a document (once they finally find it) and add tags. Or bookmark it and add their own tags there.

            • Re: Anyone else struggling to get people to think search?
              Carrie Gilbert

              There are certainly ways to make search more prominent and effective, such as the search field placement changes and tagging behaviors mentioned above. However, rather than asking "How can I make my users do X instead of Y?" a more fruitful strategy may be to focus on "How can my site better support my users as they do Y?"


              A lot of stuff has been written about people's tendencies to use search vs. browse in various information-seeking tasks (a couple of examples here and here), but what it ultimately boils down to is this: People search when they know exactly what they are looking for, like a book title or a colleague's name or a keyword specific to a domain they are researching. But more often than not—especially for people new to a site and/or a domain of knowledge—people initially browse to get a feel for where and how they should narrow their efforts. In a lot of these cases, people's behaviors are constantly shifting between searching (e.g., looking for a general topic), and then using initial search results as a jumping-off point for browsing deeper (e.g., finding a group/space/person in search results and then browsing within there to find a specific bit of info).


              Arguably, designing a site to effectively support browsing is a lot more complex than designing a site that relies solely on search. But ultimately it will probably be less time consuming and more rewarding than attempting to get people to engage with your site in a way that isn't comfortable for them. Literally just yesterday I was chatting with another Jive customer who said, "We totally underestimated users' desire to browse," and we are now working on a redesign of key views to address that.


              Hope that helps!