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20081204 Thursday December 04, 2008

Technorati Releases Fixes Some UI Peeves

In general, I regard successful user interfaces as the ones that provide the least amount of hunting and astonishment. Noone is delighted when the things they're looking for aren't obvious, the data displayed requires lots of explanation and the paths through an application are click-heavy. In this regard, Technorati was long saddled with a user interface that I regarded as delightless. However, I see that changing now and I'm delighted to see that!

Technorati's front end was released today with a handful of significant improvements. One is a long standing peeve of mine: the tag pages we're conflated with keyword search. That meant that if your post was about the president-elect and you tagged it "obama", your expectation that the the posts aggregated at http://technorati.com/tag/obama would also be tagged "obama" would be disappointed; there would also be a bunch of keyword matches mixed in. That came out of last year's attempt to "simplify" the experience by making keyword search and tag browsing the same thing; which was, in all honesty, a George Bush level failure. Sure there are folks who don't know, "What's this 'tag' thing you're talking about?" But for the folks who do know what the difference is between browsing blog posts grouped by tags and keyword search results, the mix wasn't received as a simplification but as a software defect.

I tagged my post "obama" but all of these other posts aren't tagged "obama", what's going on?
I'm glad we've gone back to keeping search and tags distinct.

The other failed aspect of the prior design was the demotion of the search box. The form input to type in your search was sized down and moved to the right, as if it were a "site search" feature. Yes, we'd like folks to explore our discovery features but the navigation for those features weren't great and the de-emphasis on search was again a source of more puzzlement than anything. The release today puts the search box back where it should be: bigger and right in the middle of the of the top third of the page, yay!

Oh, and earlier today Technorati Media released its Engage platform to beta. This is a major step in opening up the ad market place for the blogosphere.

So far, the feedback I've seen on these releases have been thumbs-up. Check 'em out, there's some more goodies in the works but these things only get better with your feedback. And yes, we know there's still more to do, I'm certainly busy with the backend stuff with our cloud platform, ping systems and crawlers (but did you notice the screenshot thumbnails on the search result and tag pages? I need to shake out the latencies producing and refreshing those). Kudos to Dave White, the front end team and the ad platform team for getting these releases out. Onward and upward!


( Dec 04 2008, 06:43:39 PM PST ) Permalink
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