Chapter 73. Browsing, Searching, or Discovery

Different people use sites and apps for different reasons. If you design for the wrong behavior, you won’t get the results you want.

This can mean a variety of things in the real world, so for the purposes of this lesson, let’s clarify:


This is when you go to Ikea to look at all the model rooms “just to get ideas,” and you probably walk out with a bunch of random crap anyway.


Searching is when you go to Ikea looking for a new sofa that will fit in your absurdly small apartment.


This is when you find the sofa you’re looking for and also buy the clever little nested end-tables from the same showroom, because they are so damn clever and nested. As if those are things you need in your life.


When you visit an online store just because their products look nice or because you’re following trends, or because you’re dreaming of the day when your life will finally be completed by a $2,000 watch, you are browsing.

A browsing user will glance quickly at most of the images, one by one, starting at the upper left. She might skip some, but that’s ok. Photos that the user finds attractive will get extra attention (maybe even a click!).

To design for browsing: Make scanning easy and keep the content quick and visual. Don’t overcrowd the page with too much shit. Focus on the aspects of the products that create emotional appeal. If that’s style, focus on photos. If that is power (like boat engines or guns) then provide that info ...

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