Plenary 4: Search Engines in the fight against Institutional Impecuniousness
In his plenary presentation, David Hawking, Chief Scientist at Funnelback, discussed the importance of search for HE websites and how to improve the search experience for visitors.
View this presentation
Hawking: HEI are businesses. Everyone who runs a business needs to maintain and increase revenue, & increase productivity #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking began his presentation by describing some of the ways a poor search interface can cause frustration, loss of productivity and event loss of revenue for businesses and institutions.
To illustrate how this can be avoided, he demonstrated some of the tools Funnelback have created to improve the search experience, including query completion, structured completions and regional adaptation…
Hawking: Demonstrating the importance of query completion and how structured completions can help guide visitors #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: Structured completions do not require the suggestions to start with the same letter #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: There is an opportunity in running a search interface to help adapt your results to the visitor’s region #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking went on to outline why search is important to specifically to universities, given the typical nature of their web presence…
Hawking: Search can help in image & marketing. Websites are vital to university marketing. Search is essential to web experience #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: Search helps to integrate a disparate presence. Its not always preferable for research outputs to be in corporate style #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: Search can help improve staff efficiency by helping them to locate policies, procedures and contacts more effectively #iwmw11 #p4
David Hawking presenting at IWMW11
Hawking introduced us to the term “searchmaster” and advocated that any institutions that is serious about maximising the value of its web presence and improving user experience should have someone specifically responsible for their search interface.
Hawking: Every organisation has a webmaster. Do you have a search master? #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: You need to monitor how well the search is working on your site and tune it #iwmw11 #p4
He suggested strategies and tools for searchmasters, including the new “Emmottiser” and “Accessoriser” tools.
Hawking: Tools for a search master: autocompletion, did you mean, query blending and ” best bets” linking to external services #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: Test popular searches and business critical searches to find optimal settings #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: Search effectiveness is a two-way street. Search and Publishing are in a symbiotic relationship #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: Demonstrating the “Emmottiser” to explain why a certain page appeared at a certain ranking and help improve content #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking: Demonstrating the “accessoriser” to automatically check a page for compliance with accessibility standards #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking concluded by emphasising the importance of search for HE institutions:
Hawking: Effective search can help make a HE institutions more attractive, successful and productive #iwmw11 #p4
Hawking’s presentation elicited the following reaction from the audience….
Targetted search e.g presenting different results dependent on visitor profile sounds interesting #iwmw11 #p4
I have also spent time with Prof of Inconsequential Studies explaining why their site doesn’t score for terms they don’t use. #iwmw11 #p4
Need a search engine with integrated PayPal button allowing departments to pay me for listings. #iwmw11 #P4
Good idea – appoint a Searchmaster for the institution – #iwmw11 #p4
People don’t use ‘wrong’ search terms, invariably uni websites use jargon and unhelpful language #iwmw11 #p4
You can view Hawking’s presentation in full
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