TALK: The Scent of Search: Maximising Findability

Tyler Tate

Oct 14th (this Thursday), 14h00, Cairns Pavilion (M203 – next to Murrays cafeteria), Wellcome Trust Genome Campus.

Speaker: Tyler Tate.

Search is an evolutionary, iterative process. Like a grizzly bear foraging for food in the forest, so people tend to rapidly migrate from one patch of information to the next. Known as Information Foraging Theory, this iterative approach to search has major implications on how search user interfaces should be designed to maximise findability.

This talk will introduce “information scent” as a key heuristic for findability, discuss four different dimensions affecting user behaviour, and consider a number of practical techniques for increasing usability in search applications.

  • Know your user
  • Experts vs. Amateurs
  • Specific vs. Broad Goals
  • Recall vs. Exploration
  • Uniform vs. Diverse information

Practical considerations for increasing usability

  1. Make the searchbox obvious
  2. Provide as-you-type suggestions
  3. Show number of results found
  4. Use descriptive titles, hit highlighting, and visited links
  5. Use ‘top hits’ to show more info on key results
  6. Never let “0 results” happen
  7. Use breadcrumbs
  8. Make metadata clickable
  9. Show count of matches per filter
  10. Use meaningful visualisations

About the speaker

Tyler Tate is a user experience designer focused on search. He is the co-founder of TwigKit, organiser of the Enterprise Search London meetup, and creator of He has recently written for Johnny Holland Magazine and spoken at Lucene Eurocon. In the past he has led the design of business applications from CMS to CRM, and has recently designed search interfaces for clients such as ITV and Rolls-Royce.


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