Ambient Findability: Findability Hacks

by Peter Morville

11 Reader Comments

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  1. _In the spirit of the hack, in the positive rather than pejorative sense, findability invites clever solutions to interesting problems. Hackers don’t worry so much about org charts. They just get the job done. In this sense, we need more findability hackers who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty._ I’ve often found that the real battle is in getting past the people who *do* worry about the org chart. As designers and developers we all need to work on our skills of persuasion so we get a chance to use our technical and creative skills properly.
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  2. I work for a fairly small design and hosting outfit. There are only six of us, a graphic designer, server-side programmer, network admin, manager, support specialist, and a client-side programmer (me). We already have the vertical separation discussed in this article, although to a much lesser degree. The small number of people involved make “findability” a feasible objective. I think you’ll see smaller organizations pick up on this faster and have more success initially than large corporations or governments. The methods discovered by the smaller groups could then be tweaked and applied to the larger groups.
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  3. To a large extent, I’ve seen compromises in findability come from a poor understanding (or incorrect and often unvoiced assumptions) about site requirements. I’ve found that an emphasis on requirements gathering at the start of a project can motivate customers to understand the importance of findability.  Requirements gathering should include descriptions of various user segments (“customer groups” in marketing-speak).  Examples include: new visitors, existing customers, partners, staff, prospective employees, investors, etc.  One way to set up this analysis is with a table: each row represents a user segment, and columns represent segment name, their goals in using the site, challenges to selecting the client, and the desired outcome of their visit from the customer’s perspective.  The discussion of customer needs seems to make clients (and design team members) very sensitive to visibility of content and the ways that *customers* perceive the site.
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  4. Interesting.  I will be curious to see how or if the book deals with the real-world implications of the ideas proposed in this sample.  In my experience, you can’t leave SEO solely up to the Marketing people, sure, but you can’t leave SEO solely up to the Web people either.  After accepting findability as an important goal for both, my problems seem to have stemmed from finding ways to get departments with two entirely different mindsets about things to work together.
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  5. The best website in terms of content, format and style.  I have learnt a lot from your site and my best wishes for your sterling work.  Thanks
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  6. I find that SEO simply turns a lot of people off. It has a “busy work” quality to it that kills any appreciation for it or willingness to tackle it. I’ll certainly vouch that it’s important, but at the same time, it’s not as sexy as visual design is for a graphic artist or as pressing as fixing bugs is to a programmer or launching new campaigns is for marketers. That’s a big over generalization, but it seems to be my consistent observation.
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  7. Ignored by many designers (and I think this is the designer’s job to tackle) is “findability”.  It’s exactly what makes the subway maps in London work.  It’s partially consistency and partially planned index, but if you plan for your users to have the minimum amount of clicks to content you’ve gone a long way to findability.  I don’t think you need a separate position for this with the exception of very large corporations and/or sites.
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  8. As touched on in the excerpt, findability extends into semantics on a website. Consistency is important and will ultimately have to cross barriers. The context of a given website will have to include the community/industry it finds itself in and we will find websites will no longer survive as a lone entity - rather collaborating websites will prosper. Users will find a natural progression between sites employing language that is truely consistent.
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  9. There is an enormous benefit to organizing a site’s content according to, or in line with, the mental stages the site’s readers and/or customers find themselves in (similar to Figure 1 in Peter Morville’s article). To a degree you can then view the real purpose of internal links (rather in a navbar or inside the content) as not simply being to redirect viewers to different information but to _different information presented in a way that matches where they are in the learning or buying process_. A *learn more* link on a page providing general information for “just curious” readers shouldn’t point to the same page as a similar link on a page aimed at a customer who is evaluating the seller (having already been sold on the product). This is, or should be true even if the subject of the *learn more* link is identical in both cases. Done well, and done thoroughly, a site structured in this way is going to be far more successful. A site visitor will tend to gravitate towards the content that is written for where he or she is in the learning/buying process and that content can be written specifically for moving this visitor to the next stage. In some cases it’s even possible to bring someone from a search engine directly into the correct part of the site, or at least avoid bringing them into the wrong part(s). Consider, for example, the probable difference in knowledge between people who search for “laser eye surgery,” “LASIK” or “Laser In Situ Keratomileusis.” If you structure your content such that the third search phrase is never used in a “general information” page you will avoid bringing a knowledgeable person into a page they won’t find helpful and you won’t be showing a “just beginning to learn about it” person a term that is overly technical for them.
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  10. Findability is of course very important. But onsite optimzation is at least for google not the important factor. The key to success is link building. Unless a web designer does not create a site only with flash, you can get a good ranking for your keywords without a problem. No question, it is easier with a good onsite optimization. But you should not restrict your desgner’s creativity.
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  11. Trade jaipur - is a web directory, yellow pages directory, and provide more categories like entertainment, games etc.site : http://www.tradejaipur.com.
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