For this year’s code4lib Jørn and I had prepared an demo called Kill the Search Button.
Basically, the GUI rethinks the traditional way of presenting search results. The idea is to lay out the search result as a map or a set of tiled pages that the user can navigate, rather than a chunk of separate pages with only one page visible at a time.
As a consequence, the search result is zoomable and scrollable allowing the user to smoothly move around the search result and to zoom between an overview layout with several columns of pages to a very detailed close-up view.
Zooming is done using a slider. Page transitions are done using scroll animations in order to underline the feeling of moving about the search result.
Pages are loaded in chunks of 10 and new chunks are added on the fly when needed, creating a growing, visible search result.
The search field and navigation box float on top of the search result. They both loose focus when not in use in order to let the search result below become more visible. They can both be dragged around.
Features without a search button
Besides the GUI we added a number of features to the demo:
- Live search: The search result is updated on every key press
- Did you mean. Good for typos and spell checking
- Suggest. Inspiration from other user’s queries
- Index lookup. Mostly for librarians
- About-by. Boosting particular fields for different results
Usability-wise, the demo illustrates how a smoother search experience can be achieved simply by updating the search result on key press. By doing this, the wait for page reload is gone and feedback is instant, allowing the user to evaluate the search results much more rapidly.
Try it out
Sounds confusing? Luckily we have a web page! It contains a number of screen casts with Jørn going through the features (go to: developer.statsbiblioteket.dk/kill/code4lib.html), but you can also give it a span your self: developer.statsbiblioteket.dk/kill/. (PLEASE NOTE: The demo currently only runs in Firefox 3.5+).
Damn you, snow
By the way, we never did get to go to code4lib to do the presentation due a blizzard and some ticket-mess-up.
Here’s the blizzard:
And here’s a shot of how great we look trough our remote c0de4lib video intro: