Search as an Experience


It’s easy to think of search (ie searching on Google or Bing) as simply a (boring) research activity. And in turn, to think that all the innovation in search is about providing a ‘better’ result. But what does ‘better’ mean when it comes to search?

Joseph Pine’s TED talk on what consumers want is a good insight into how the search game is changing (and hat tip to Michael Gray for the link and thought). Joseph’s talk is from 2004, but his point is relevant now. It’s essentially this: people want an experience. And they want an experience with authenticity.

Consider how the UX and designer communities have grown in the last few years and you’ll have in an insight into how people want to interact with their programs/gadgets/sites… even their line of business (LOB) apps. They want a pleasurable experience. Something that they can relate to.

Why should search be any different? When searching, we want an experience. It’s why Bing added pretty pictures, flyouts and visual search, and why Google is pushing things like personalised search and social search (to name just a few examples – the rate of innovation in the engines is huge). It’s more than just the results. It’s how we relate to the results that matters.