Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Google does, apparently, test everything

I was recently interested by a debate about why Google sticks its facets, and now its query refinements etc, at the bottom of the search results. The basic assumption that was proposed was that you only need to refine your results if you didnt get it in the first 10 results, which you probably did anyway right.

I thoroughly enjoyed a good chat with Daniel Russell today, about this decision. I can reveal that it is a very very very well tested decision. Not just a random design decision, as I perhaps naively assumed. Apparently, they even tested 5px variations of it on the x and y axis, as well as placing it above and below the first result of 10 and many more options combined. And their high volume studies decided right there, not 5px to the side, was best.

Apparently it doesnt stop there. Even the height, and shade of blue, of the horizontal bar above the results has a dramatic effect. The colour blue has been carefully chosen.

In some respects, I feel like my research ideas and focus have just been completely shattered into tiny shards. But I guess I am now all the better for knowing (or believe I know) how purposefully Google is how it is. And its just like Daniel Russell said in the recent IEEE special issue, there are some things that you can only study at their level, including tiny UI changes.

Not that they only test small changes it seems.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

What is the smallest sensemaking problem?

Daniel Russell opens the CHI2009 Sensemaking Workshop with a question:

What is the smallest sensemaking problem? What is the very minimum that counts as sensemaking?

A lot of the challenges in this area are group planning problems, handoffs in hospitals, writing essays. These range from big to massive. Whats a small sensemaking problem?

Thursday, 2 April 2009

CHI2009 Planning tool

Yesterday I released a planning tool for attending CHI2009. Its had 50 people actually use it in the first 24 hours, and I suspect many more visitors (I should be counting really).

Ive had plenty of feedback already, some improvements to make, but much praise too:

"Excellent Max! - Thanks a lot!"

"This is super! ... just having such a planner is a relief! I commend you for such a straight-forward solution."

"This looks great, can't wait to get home and put it on my PowerBook and iPod! Thanks so much for doing this!"

and many many more. I'm quite surprised by the response I've had. Its, of course, quite generic and easy to apply to another conference. So do contact me if you like. Otherwise enjoy and I'll see some of you at CHI!