The secrets of search success part 2: developing a search strategy, and selecting the right technology

The second part of our Q&A with experts in search, information architecture, intranets, content management and usability.

Page 1 of 2 next >>

In Part 1 of our Expert Q&A we looked at the value of search, and how to convince senior management to take search seriously. In Part 2 we look at developing a search strategy, and selecting the right technology.

Our experts are Tony Byrne (Founder of The Real Story Group); Charlie Hull (Managing Director of open source specialists Flax); Sam Marshall (Director, ClearBox Consulting); Peter Morville (President, Semantic Studios); Paul Nelson (Chief Architect of Search Technologies), James Robertson (MD of intranet specialists Step Two Designs) and usability expert Tony Russell-Rose (Founder of UXLabs).

Q: I need to develop a Search Strategy but I don’t know where to start. What are the first steps?

Peter Morville: The first step is to explore multiple ways to re-frame the problem. It's dangerous to focus on search without also considering information architecture, knowledge management, and content strategy. Similarly, it's vital to recognise that search isn't just about an interface or an engine.

At its best, search is a complex adaptive system that joins users and content creators together in strange loops of feedback and learning.

Sam Marshall: Don't develop a search strategy. Focus on findability, where search plays a role, but navigation, social networks and content quality matter too.

Paul Nelson: Get help. Find someone who understands search to do an assessment to match up your needs against what’s possible. If they’re any good they will inventory your data repositories and spend time to understand your target audience.  The result will be a practical plan to get you from here to there.

James Robertson: The first piece of work is vital! Focus first on building momentum for search improvements, and on building your team's credibility. The first project must make you a search rockstar!

Tony Byrne: Figure out where the highest-value content lives.  You can't search everything and still be effective. 

Page 1 of 2 next >>