A being in search of meaning

The guys at GDS have blogged today about the work they are undertaking in improving their internal search. This is of particular interest to me as very recently an eminent economist/journalist stated that the ONS search “was like Google on an acid trip“. This may be somewhat harsh but it is safe to say that the search remains flawed despite considerable work and improvements (actually the nature of the content model is the big problem but thats a post for another day and probably a different venue.)

It is a useful blueprint to follow I think as we continue our own work in this area – to be honest point 8 around ‘technical debt’ is probably a bigger issue for us! That said I think adding more support for ‘power users’ is something we need to spend some time considering – the site has more than its share of those people and clearly it isn’t answering their needs at the moment.

We will certainly following the user led model – getting an environment in place where we can better test changes with users is a major preoccupation at the moment for a handful of people. There is usetesting currently being undertaken with representatives from our own five personas and it will be interesting to follow that up at some point in the future.

I used to very much think of site search as representing a failure of the IA but more and more it is the first destination for users and getting it right is vital (and the data it provides doesn’t hurt either!).