I ‘discovered’ a new information seeking behavior today and realised that I have never heard any discussion of particular design strategies for it. The behaviour was that of repeating a visit to a particular site or page.
Here’s how it happened:
I was doing some rewriting for an IA workshop. In this workshop, I talk about information seeking behaviours, give examples and ways to design for them. I include the 2 traditional ones – known item and exploratory information seeking. Pretty straightforward. I also talk about when people don’t know what they need to know, and how to design for that.
I was thinking about examples for each so looked at my browser history to remember what I had been doing recently. I realised that almost all of my web use didn’t fall into one of my ‘categories’ of information seeking – almost all of it was returning to things I had already visited (posts and articles I’d already read, sites that had design features I noticed, products I had previously looked up). In a week of browsing, there were very, very few times that I had started an information-seek from scratch.
That gave me a big surprise as I realised how much I revisit information, and how much I rely on memory, my URL history and del.icio.us to re-find information. It all made me wonder:
- how prevalent this behaviour is
- what design strategies we could use for this type of task