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Design for Discovery
Peter Morville & Jeffery Callender
in•for•ma•tion ar•chi•tec•ture n.
• The structural design of shared
• The combination of organization,
labeling, search, and navigation
systems in web sites and intranets.
• The art and science of shaping
information products and experiences
to support usability and findability.
• An emerging discipline and
community of practice focused on
bringing principles of design and
architecture to the digital landscape.
Design for Discovery
“Search is among the
innovations of our time.
It influences what we
buy and where we go. It
shapes how we learn
and what we believe.”
Peter Morville & Jeffery Callender
Illustrated by Jeff Callender, Q LTD
Most of the complaints
we get are due to the way
users search; they use
the wrong keywords.
• Conversion rate increased over 30% in first two weeks.
• Double digit increase in average order size.
• Technical information downloads increased by 48%.
• Email and telephone inquiries reduced by 21%.
• Increased successful searches from 53% to 83%.
• Increased site traffic to the final product detail page by 80%.
“A leading e-commerce site reported a revenue increase
of $370 million in the year following launch.”
Source: Endeca 9
Search is a…
Complex, Adaptive System
Goals Interaction Features Indexing Tools
Psychology Aﬀordances Technology Structure Process
Behavior Language Algorithms Metadata Incentives
Query Results Engine Content
Source: Search Patterns (2010) 11
Principles of Design
Immediate Response User
Recognition Over Recall
Context of Use
Incremental Construction Progressive Disclosure
one step at a time… more within reach… 13
Immediate Response Predictability
flow requires feedback… feed-forward features and results…
Direct Manipulation Context of Use
tapping into muscle memory… the delight is in the details… 15
There is one timeless way of building.
It is thousands of years old, and the same
today as it has always been.
The great traditional buildings of the past,
the villages and tents and temples in
which man feels at home, have always
been made by people who were very close
to the center of this way.
It is not possible to make great buildings,
or great towns, beautiful places, places
where you feel yourself, places where you
feel alive, except by following this way.
And, as you will see, this way will lead
anyone who looks for it to buildings
which are themselves as ancient in
their form, as the trees and hills,
and as our faces are.
The Timeless Way of Building
Window Place (180)
Everybody loves window seats,
bay windows, and big windows
with low sills and comfortable
chairs drawn up to them.
May be part of:
• Entrance Room (130)
• Zen View (134)
• Light on Two Sides (159)
• Street Windows (164)
• Alcoves (179)
• Low Sill (222)
• Built-In Seats (202)
• Deep Reveals (223)
A Pattern Language
Christopher Alexander et al.
The quality of being locatable or
The degree to which an object is
easy to discover or locate.
The degree to which a system or
environment supports wayfinding,
navigation, and retrieval.
enveloping (e.g., ambient air)
the ability to find anyone or anything
from anywhere at anytime 61
Spime Search email@example.com
A smart wine rack that uses RFID to
track bottles in the rack and identify
ones that fit the selection criteria.
Collectors and restaurants can use
WineM racks to search collections
The wine can be dynamically
reorganized by any combination of
year, region, price, etc.
A handheld device accepts queries,
and full-color LED lights transform
the rack and bottles into a search
results interface. The system even
supports faceted navigation. 65
New Soft City
by Dan Hill
New Soft City by Dan Hill
Urban Sensing by Dan Hill
Search is a Wicked Problem
• Hybrid between design,
engineering, and marketing.
• No definitive formulation.
• Considerable uncertainty.
• Complex interdependencies.
• Incomplete, contradictory, and
• Stakeholders have radically
different world views.
• It’s a project and a process.
• The problem is never solved.
User Experience Honeycomb: Searcher’s Edition
Is it useful? Is search the right Will it work for all users? Are
solution? Will it help our users features and results accessible
achieve their goals? And, given to blind and visually impaired
the state of technology, should users? Can people search from
we revisit our goals? Can search a wide variety of platforms and
be more? browsers?
Is it easy to use with maximum Does the design inspire trust?
eﬃciency and minimal error? Do the order and display of
Are there aﬀordances for novice results convey authority? Will
and expert searchers? Are there users believe that the top
gentle slopes to support results are the best or most
learning? popular or most relevant?
Is it satisfying to use? Does it What is the value of search?
make people want to search? Does it build the bottom line or
Does it embody the values and advance the mission? Is the
identity of your brand? Does user experience aligned with
search leverage the power of strategy? Can search confer
emotional design? competitive advantage?
Can users ﬁnd your site? Can How do these qualities interact?
they ﬁnd their way around your Which are most and least
site? Can they ﬁnd your content important to search? What have
despite your site? Is search we missed? Go ahead. Erase a
aligned with search engine few. Add your own. This is only
optimization? a place to start. 72
IA Therefore I Am