Local and User-Centric Thinking

It seems like almost an Internet cliche to raise the subject of putting the user first in the online experience. Yet for yellow pages publishers and some others (including newspapers in certain cases), this represents something of a culture shift. Brian Wool at ClickZ has a nice discussion of query and search behavior and demographics, which ties into the larger point

The bottom line is: make the site user friendly and make sure that site search is very “robust,” to use another Internet cliche. People are going to search on brands, products, “generic” keywords, categories and all manner of other things looking for whatever it is they want.

The site has to be able to accommodate all these use cases to really be functional. The category disambiguation — an interim or “interstitial” page between the query and results — that one still sees on certain yellow pages sites will ultimately have to go even though it may be helpful in many respects. It’s from a time of more rigid thinking about local search.

2 Responses to “Local and User-Centric Thinking”

  1. mike Says:

    Relevance of results is of course key, as opposed to jamming all sorts of featued listings above the fold that have weak connections to the actual geo/category search.

    Also, site performance is an often overlooked/underestimated usability element. Google’s results are instantaneous, while waiting 3 or 4 seconds for a page to load turns off a lot of users.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Agree re load times. That was a key area of focus for Google early on.

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