Monday’s launch of eBay Express marks an important milestone not just for eBay but for the larger Search design community. As many of you know, I believe that the faceted metadata search system introduced in eBay Express is very much the direction that all large collections should head and am pleased with the progress we’ve made with this launch.
Marti Hearst (UC Berkeley’s Flemenco), Corey Chandler (eBay) and I spoke at CHI2006, also on Monday, about lessons we’ve learned while designing faceted metadata systems. A theme emerged in the Q&A around the importance of merging browsing and searching that was encouraging.
- Separate systems undermine confidence
If different matches are found when you browse a category structure and another when you search using keywords–users aren’t ever sure they are seeing everything.
- Augmenting keyword queries with browsable facets works
In the discussion, there was agreement that while many users start with a keyword query they appreciate adding additional browsable facets to their query.
- Augmenting browsing with keywords is powerful
In a similar way enabling browsing from the homepage is a good starting point for people but then it can be helpful to add keywords to that query.
- Faceted Metadata creates a common language
If the searcher and the classifier are different people, faceted metadata can be a good common ground which can assist recall.
Time will tell whether faceted metadata will prove to be a success, but now I am pretty confident there are at least another 100 believers out there following my workshop. 🙂