Search vs Browse

by Jason Preston on October 8, 2009

These are two very different modes for the news consumer. At least they are for me.

As I tweeted the other day, I think most major news brand web sites are great at “browse,” or at least better than Google News and as good as the major aggregators. Where news brands fall down is on search.

When you’re searching for a news story, isn’t it better to see results from every news source instead of just one? There’s an inherent limit in the way proprietary news sites can treat search, the same where there’s an inherent limit in the way any proprietary site can present search; searching works best when you present comprehensive results.

Better to make a truly killer browse experience, and make your site as google friendly as possible. Let them do search; you should do news.

{ 1 comment }

1 Paul Balcerak 10.12.09 at 3:42 pm

I’ve always been a fan of “do what you do best and link to the rest” (I’m paraphrasing) and I agree that it’s probably best to optimize your site for Google and let them handle search.

On the other hand, depending on what you mean by “browse,” I’m not sure I really agree that news sites are so good at it. I took it to mean “serendipitous browsing of headlines and whatnot”—the way you’d search for news in the print product. To that end, there are a handful of good-looking news sites out there. But they could go beyond aesthetics and really be good at browsing by getting better at linking. When I’m bored, I can spend close to an hour on Wikipedia (go read their Time Travel page and try not to get sucked in) because every third word is a link to another relevant story to what I’m interested in. That’s what I’d consider a “browsing” experience. On the other hand, your average newspaper story page has maybe a text-only URL and a “related stories” box off to the side. I read the story (or part of it) and I’m done, maybe even off the site.

We all know some newspapers have issues with linking out, but at least link in and give me a reason to want to stay on site for more than 30 seconds.

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