Enterprise search is a wicked problem – a problem that can’t be solved merely with clever algorithms, beautiful code and lots of data. You need a proper process for search user experience design when dealing with high ambitions, diverging goals, and tight budgets and deadline – not to forget about potentially weak corporate IT infrastructure, faulty data and convoluted security mechanisms. It takes dialog and cross-diciplinary collaboration with stakeholders, users and techies to explore all the requirements for a possibly great enterprise search solution. My main goal with search user experience design is to facilitate, contribute to, and document this dialog throughout the entire timespan of enterprise search projects.
I was recently invited by Tony Russell-Rose to speak at the ECIR 2010 conference about my work with search user experience, and the process methodology I have developed together with my colleagues as Comperio. Tony himself held a tutorial on search user experience design which I regret not being able to attend. I admire the work he and his collegues at Endeca are pouring into their UI Design Pattern Library, which I hope they will open up to the public sometime soon.
I also had the pleasure to befriend Stefan Olafsson and Tyler Tate at TwigKit, two excellent guys with a passion and talent for great search design. Their software is worth checking out if you’re considering to implement a search application frontend in Java, as it will certainly speed up your development process.
Tyler and Stefan arranged for us to have a meetup with the Enterprise Search London group the evening before ECIR, at a local pub in London. My presentation was the alibi of the evening, and after that we had a great discussion about our own experiences with search design in the enterprise. Thank you everybody who joined us there.
I have published the presentation slides on SlideShare, in case you want to have a look. Feel free to re-distribute and re-use whole or parts of the presentation, provided that you respect the conditions of the Creative Commons license.