Life inside a search lab – London 6 April

by | Mar 16, 2016 | Intranets

You can tell that when politicians walk around a laboratory they probably have no idea of what life is like inside one. I still have happy memories of discovering the solvent power of methylene dichloride and what happens when ether escapes from a leaky joint in a distillation retort. I’ve had a number of inquiries about what my Search Lab workshop is going to be like in April. Think of it as Applied Schadenfreude, a wonderful German word that means gaining pleasure from other people’s misfortune. Of course inside the enterprise this misfortune is difficult to assess. Have you noticed how rarely you ever see an intranet search application actually demonstrated at a conference, or even website search?

The moment we play with website search we usually become very aware of the misfortune of site visitors. But it’s one thing to see poor search implementation and another to understand how to fix it. The purpose of the Intranet Now Search Lab in London on 6 April is to provide you with a framework for assessing the quality of search performance and use it in action on a range of websites. To make the workshop work well we will have a number of pcs available so that you can work in small groups and then report back – much better than doing it all on a single big screen. Doing search hands-on enables you to try out various query and filtering options and build up a set of ‘search good practice’ notes for both your website and your intranet/enterprise search applications. I have a wonderful Black Museum of search implementations which defeat all my attempts to understand what the designers, developers and managers thought they were trying to achieve. It is rather like watching the adverts on television and trying to guess what the ‘creative’ conference must have been like to have come up with such a strange approach to customer communications. I also have some very good examples to demonstrate.  Of course the ideal approach is to offer up your own website for a trial run.

The Search Lab is run on the Chatham House rule that nothing said at the meeting can ever be attributed to a participant, so your secrets will still be secret for ever after the event. What else we will cover in the workshop is up to you. I started in search in 1975 and in 1980 worked with Unilever on the development of the first UK enterprise search application. So as well as the fun of playing with search you can also have fun in trying to stump the consultant. If you do that’s fine with me – I want to learn from the workshop and find out where my search weaknesses are. I’ll also bring along a collection of books on search and there will be a discount offer on my own book for participants.

Even if your own search application works perfectly please consider bringing the event to the attention of less fortunate colleagues in other organisations. They will be very grateful to you.

Martin White