This week we started out talking about search and search results. Google obviously is the one to talk about here, and we looked at some of the user friendliness Google provides that we take for granted, such as metadata and auto complete suggestions, which can be very illuminating.

Illuminating auto completed suggestionsIlluminating auto completed suggestions

The great questions of our times

We talked about a few different aspects of search and results such as facets, filters and information scents. One interesting thing to think about is what happens when there are no results to a user’s search – it’s an opportunity to help them along their way with a useful suggestion, but so many sites just return an unfriendly “sorry” message.

Asos does a good job, with a chatty, encouraging message in appropriate language and some banners to send me onwards.

Asos error message

Asos error message

Surprisingly, Amazon is not so good here. The language in the error message is cold and robotic. All I’m shown is a banner ad which looks spammy and then a request for feedback. It seems odd to ask me for feedback about whether I found what I was looking for… when surely they know I have been given no search results.


Amazon error message

We then sketched out some ideas for search results for our own projects. I’d already been thinking about this a bit, here are some sketches I did in class.

Search Results

Search Results

Usability Test

In the second half of class we prepared to start usability testing our prototypes. We came up with some scenarios to give our test subjects and a discussion guide to take them through the process. In my scenarios, I asked the user to imagine that they had been tasked with finding a comedy night to take their workmates to. Coincidently, there was an info session about the UX course taking place at the same time as our class, so we were able to grab some willing participants.

My test user, Dan, seemed to understand the basics of the site straight away, which was great. He liked the three column layout I’d made, and he felt that it would help him find his way around the suggestions. One thing that did confuse him was the word “acts”, which I used to mean comedians, but he thought perhaps it meant a type of show or gig. That is really useful to know and easily fixed!


Usability Test

After the usability test and scenarios were done, I had Dan fill out a SUS test, and my site scored 80%, which is a useful benchmark for testing future iterations!