Search Patterns: Design for Discovery Paperback – 5 Feb 2010
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Search Patterns is a playful guide to the practical concerns of search interface design. It contains a bonanza of screenshots and illustrations that capture the best of todays design practices and presents a fresh perspective on the broader role of search and discovery.
-- Marti Hearst, Professor, UC Berkeley and Author, Search User Interfaces(Marti Hearst)
Search Patterns is a delight to read -- very thoughtful and thought provoking. It's the most comprehensive survey of designing effective search experiences I've seen.
-- Irene Au, Director of User Experience, Google(Irene Au)
I love this book! Thanks to Peter and Jeffery, I now know that search (yes, boring old yucky who cares search) is one of the coolest ways around of looking at the world.
-- Dan Roam, Author, The Back of the Napkin(Dan Roam)
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In the preface Morville sets out to tear down the walls between disciplines, and at this he succeeds. From user psychology to technical considerations to the specific components of the user interface, Search Patterns has something for everyone involved in implementing search.
The first two chapters lay the groundwork for the rest of the book, discussing both why people search and the individual components that make up search. The book is in full swing by chapter three where Morville discusses user behavior, elements of interaction, and -- my personal favourite -- the principles of design.
In talking about design principles, Morville describes search both as a conversation and a jazz-like improvisation. He urges the architect to make search an easy, simple process to initiate, followed by a progressively more sophisticated toolkit that enables users to iteratively refine their query. He argues for a no-suprises approach to the user interface in which valuable options are highly visible and elements of interaction are easily predictable. Many of the principles are applicable to a much broader context than search alone, but that only stregthens their merit.
The real heart of the book is chapter four, which looks at 10 design patterns over 50 pages. It considers the obvious patterns -- autocomplete, faceted navigation, advanced search -- as well as more disparate groupings like federated search and personalization. The design patterns are complimented by a wealth of thought-provoking examples throughout the book, with an especially high concentration of desktop, mobile, and even kiosk visuals in chapter five.
Search Patterns is a must-read for everyone collaborating on a search application. It will give your team of designers, engineers, and business stakeholders a common vocabularly and greater awareness of the many sides of search.
Morville ends the book -- as I will end this review -- by urging the reader to get to work on making search better: "For every unsolved problem," he says, "there are countless instances in which we know the solution, but nobody has bothered to implement it. Discipline and attention to detail would go a long way toward improving the world of search."
You should get started by reading this book.
The cartoon on the first page says
"This book is about the design of user interface for search and discovery, it covers all the bases from precision recall.......". From the title it looks like the book would cover practices and principles used in this design, but it doesn't. It just beat around the bush by using vague rhetoric all over the place such as this sentence
"in fact, we move fluidly between modes of ask, browse, filter and search without noting the shift..." or
"as designers we must expand our vision beyond finding to incorporate learning, and we can't stop there." No where does the author says how to do that expansion.
The book is full of such quotes and sentences that I would assume anyone interested in search would anyway know. The rhetoric by itself is not a problem; the problem is that the author stops with those rhetoric statements without saying anything meaningful.
What am I suppose to make out of this sentence
"Search is not just about find-ability. We search to learn , understand, share and act. As designers, when we focus on goals, the challenge becomes exhilarating (and scary), because the end of search is a moving target." - Makes sense to me but what do you expect me to do with this statement?
The author completely failed to mention in the book how the rhetoric connects to search patterns and that's what makes this book non-valuable.
Search is becoming a universal solvent in software and media - it has transformed publishing and advertising and is poised to transform business intelligence, enterprise content management, data integration ... and when combined with augmented realities, geolocation and social networks will change how we live with each other. It is a big topic.
There are many things to like about this book: it is visually strong and makes good use of illustrations to bring abstract concepts to life; it covers the basics well; it reinforces the importance of context in search and computing generally (we have to think of context as a first-order object); it expands ones conception or search, search interfaces and the search experience.
I do have a couple of caveats - I agree with another reviewer that this is patterns lite, so lite that I question whether these deserve the name patterms. It does not meet the standards for clear thinking and presentation set in the Gang of Four book. This is not a problem unique to this book, over the past few years there have been many books that play loose with the pattern meme. I would also have appreciated a deeper dive on the emerging role of semantics in search. The best example of this is the role that GoodRelations is playing is searching and finding products on eCommerce sites. I suspect that open and evolving ontologies like Good Relaitons will transform search over the next decade.
The outcome is an incredibly compact and entertaining design guide focusing primarily on web and mobile search, but lacking any reference to web analytics. A variety of concepts and patterns are illustrated using fascinating examples and well-thought-out visualizations. I appreciate the visualizations as they can be used as a reference, as summaries, or as refreshers. I completely agree with both authors, that we should be very passionate about search. "It's far more interesting and important than most people realize."
I can highly recommend this book, which is available both electronically and in print, to anyone who wants to better understand search and be more innovative when designing it. It is astonishing how much inspiration you can find when you start thinking outside the search box...
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