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Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Second Edition by Peter Morville, Louis Rosenfeld

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Information Seeking Behaviors

What do users do to find information? They enter queries in search systems, browse from link to link, and ask humans for help (through email, chat interfaces, and so forth). Searching, browsing, and asking are all methods for finding, and are the basic building blocks of information seeking behavior.

There are two other major aspects to seeking behaviors: integration and iteration. We often integrate searching, browsing, and asking in the same finding session. Figure 3-3 shows how you might search your corporate intranet for guidelines on traveling abroad. You might first browse your way through the intranet portal to the HR site, browse the policies area, and then search for the policy that includes the string “international travel”. If you still didn’t get your question answered, you might send an email to Biff, the person responsible for that policy, to ask exactly what your per diem will be while spending the week in Timbuktu. Let’s hope your intranet’s information architecture was designed to support such integration!

Integrated browsing, searching, and asking over many iterations

Figure 3-3. Integrated browsing, searching, and asking over many iterations

Figure 3-3 also illustrates the iteration you may go through during one finding session. After all, we don’t always get things right the first time. And our information needs may change along the way, causing us to try new approaches with each new iteration. ...

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