Browse or Search

18 Jan 2010 - 9:07am
4 years ago
10 replies
1377 reads
parth
2010

Hello,

I am working on a digital music site and today our team got into a
debate regarding the functionality of 'Browsing Artist -
Alphabetically' on the Homepage.

Although our Search functionality is pretty tight with predictive
drop-down with first 3 characters and refreshes as the user types in,
we were thinking if Browse Artist by Alphabetical order can give that
value in discovering new Artists..

Most of the music sites (Mog, emusic and so on..) has the Browse
Artist with Alphabetical order, I still wonder what kind of use cases
would strongly demand Browsing Artists by Alphabetical order ?

Thanks!

Comments

19 Jan 2010 - 12:11pm
Diego Moya
2005

2010/1/18 parth wrote:
>I still wonder what kind of use cases
> would strongly demand Browsing Artists by Alphabetical order ?

There's one use case where "Browsing Artists by Alphabetical order" is
needed: when the user doesn't know the exact spelling of the artist's
name and has to find it scanning the list for similar names.

There are better alternatives for this use case: a "Did you mean...?"
spell check, and the predictive auto-complete suggestions you said are
already provided in your interface. Though the ordered list should
always be available as a fall-back (but not necessarily in a prominent
place).

> Although our Search functionality is pretty tight with predictive
> drop-down with first 3 characters and refreshes as the user types in,
> we were thinking if Browse Artist by Alphabetical order can give that
> value in discovering new Artists..

I can't see how Order by Name would be valuable for discovering
artists; the only significant information of each artist found by that
criteria is, well, their names. This doesn't say much about whether
the user would like it or not. Popularity lists and related
suggestions ("people who like this artist also like...") would be
better options for that goal.

19 Jan 2010 - 12:15pm
Tyesha Snow
2010

Hey Parth,

Two thoughts.

Sometimes you can't remember the name of the artist so browsing
through an alpha list could help you find them.

Browsing artists alphabetically is a feature most people would
expect. It's kind of a baseline interaction, so omitting it would
create confusion and possibly corrupt the users overall trust and
understanding of the site interaction.

-Tyesha

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48425

20 Jan 2010 - 4:27pm
Gino Rodrigues
2008

Two reasons to keep alphabetical navigation:

1 - Create an overview
It´s valuable to give users a broad sense of the whole collection
covered by the site, specially if it is driven to a specific style.

2 - Allow exploration
It is a mistake to assume that every user come to your site with a
sharply defined information need that can be translated into keywords.
It is possible to inform, suggest or even surprise people. Providing
interesting ways to wander around may increase loyalty and visit time,
which btw are very u$eful metrics.

It is a good effort to enhance the internal search engine, but don´t
rely solely on it; this is Google´s job on most user´s minds.

Good luck!

Gino

20 Jan 2010 - 5:08pm
Brian Mila
2009

I have to agree with Diego, I don't see how browsing by name will
help users discover music they are interested in. A "Browse by
Genre" or "Find artists similar to..." would probably be a better
fit. Of course, those results of artists in a particular genre could
be ordered alphabetically by default, so maybe there is a compromise.
But there are a lot of ways to categorize a band, perhaps a faceted
search would be a better model for your site...some interesting
facets could be: record label, album sales, genre, number of albums,
demographics (age of band, age of members?, geographic region,
language, etc.)

Just a thought,
Brian

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48425

20 Jan 2010 - 6:22pm
Anindita
2010

Hey Parth,
My two cents on this topic...

As far as I understand, an indexed nav (A-Z) would be useful only if
there is a very large known volume of data (such as a dictionary
where you know the spelling) if the ultimate objective of the nav in
this case is to reveal new data and encourage deeper browsing, it
would be better to provide a two level link list menu (such as the
nav on the right of this very page that allows you to access a thread
AND see ppl who mailed on it) or then an annotated link list such as
any search result page such as Google or Bing both educating and
guiding the user simultaneously. Lastly the labels and data for these
links should be grouped by how your users browse (could be genre,
chronological, latest releases etc) Hope this helps!

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48425

21 Jan 2010 - 5:00am
Dimiter Simov
2006

Two points in favor of alphabetic lists:
1. Curiosity and exploration. I have nothing better to do right now. I will
just look around and see who's here.

2. Volume and trust. By clicking letter A, I see a page listing 786 artists
starting with A. This is a respectable number. I will trust that site as one
that can deliver variety. Note that seeing a number written as 786 does not
have the same effect as seeing a list of 786 items.

Dimiter Simov
Lucrat Ltd. www.lucrat.net
Netage Solutions Inc. www.netagesolutions.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of parth
Sent: Mon, Jan 18, 2010 6:07
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Browse or Search

Hello,

I am working on a digital music site and today our team got into a
debate regarding the functionality of 'Browsing Artist -
Alphabetically' on the Homepage.

Although our Search functionality is pretty tight with predictive
drop-down with first 3 characters and refreshes as the user types in,
we were thinking if Browse Artist by Alphabetical order can give that
value in discovering new Artists..

Most of the music sites (Mog, emusic and so on..) has the Browse
Artist with Alphabetical order, I still wonder what kind of use cases
would strongly demand Browsing Artists by Alphabetical order ?

Thanks!

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21 Jan 2010 - 11:28am
Justin Davis
2008

I tend to be with the search camp on this one. It, of course, largely
depends on who the primary users are and what their goals are (and
what the primary business goals of the site are). If the idea is to
provide users with a way to find the music they love and play it/buy
it easily, search is the way to go. Those users probably know the
artist, know the spelling, and don't need the assistance provided by
an alphabetical list.

I also don't agree that an alphabetical list helps with discovery,
it's an index. Just as you wouldn't turn to the index of a book to
explore new areas of the book, I'd bet most users would use an
alphabetical list as a shortcut for finding artists that they are
already familiar with. Search (with predictive text) provides this in
a quicker way, I'd think.

I'm also not sure a list provides credibility, necessarily. If the
goal of the site is to become the exhaustive resource for music, then
raising quantity to the forefront is important, but what if the idea
is "the most selective music site out there - only the best, no
fluff". At that point, pointing out that you have a ton of artists is
counterproductive to the brand positioning. Besides, the message of
quantity can be communicated in many more ways than a list.

If it were me, I'd go with the search as a primary finding mechanism,
with recommendations throughout based on the user's primary goal (do
most users want to explore by genre, location, etc?). That provides
findability and discovery, in their respective places.

Justin Davis
Madera Labs
www.maderalabs.com

24 Jan 2010 - 2:50pm
Suba Periyasami
2008

A music site should attract not just the primary users who knows what their
goals
are (what they want to listen to and buy), but also the general audience who
are not
always familiar with the new artist or the playlist. Scanning the list by
names, their images or listening to
sample of their songs helps to make a decision.

I would propose displaying search as a primary functionality and a 'Browse
by Artist or catagory' link below the search to
cater to the needs of wide range of audiences.

Suba

25 Jan 2010 - 1:19am
Anonymous

On Jan 24, 2010, at 2:50 PM, Suba Periyasami wrote:

> A music site should attract not just the primary users who knows what their
> goals
> are (what they want to listen to and buy), but also the general audience who
> are not
> always familiar with the new artist or the playlist. Scanning the list by
> names, their images or listening to
> sample of their songs helps to make a decision.

Those who are unfamiliar with music could use recommendations to make their decision. Top 10s, Hot Picks, and those who listen to this: also listen to that lists.

>
> I would propose displaying search as a primary functionality and a 'Browse
> by Artist or catagory' link below the search to
> cater to the needs of wide range of audiences.
Instead of category, I think genre could be better suited, especially if Music is a category within a larger set. A Filter function that specifies searching artists or genres

>
> Suba
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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27 Jan 2010 - 1:30pm
Edo A. Elan
2004

I once did a music web site (now defunct: http://tinyurl.com/ycofvkq).
Alpha listings are a great way to prove that the website offers more
artists than you can shake a stick at. People scan lists to evaluate
the general quality of the offerings.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=48425

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