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Enterprise Search, 2nd Edition by Martin White

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Chapter 12. Search User Interface Design

The purpose of this chapter is to highlight just a few of the interface design issues that need to be taken into account. There are no screenshots because of the immense difficulty in gaining permission from organizations to publish what are almost always depressing examples of user interface design for search.

The user interface for most enterprise applications offers little opportunity for creative thinking. The displays are usually driven by the need to present items of process-related information to a relatively small number of users who will probably be using the application throughout their working day. IT departments therefore have little requirement for user interface design skills, especially as the website search design was probably taken out of their hands by marketing or communications.

The result is that most search user interfaces seem to be whatever came out of the box when the application was installed. A commercial vendor may have developed some initial screens, but there is no ongoing usability testing and development. In an open source search application situation, there is usually very considerable flexibility for the user interface, but it needs to be specified at the outset, and that requires a very good understanding of user requirements and the potential capabilities of the software. Several books have been written on user interface design and these are listed at the end of the chapter in “Further Reading”. Designing ...

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