Search version 1.0
We added search version 1.0 in January 2022.
What was my goal with version 1.0?
I wanted to ship something quickly that allowed readers to search for a Wikipedia topic, favorite book, or favorite author to get suggestions on where to start browsing for books they might be interested in.
I did not have genre data at this stage, and I wanted to keep it simple while also playing with a unique approach that differs from Google and similar search experiences.
How many people use search? Why is search a failure?
In January 2023, we had ~4,800 users use search.
That means that ~1.25% of users use search.
That seems terrible, and I have a few guesses at why people are not using it.
- Our mobile UX doesn't show search as a persistent option. Instead, they would need to scroll to the top of the page to use it. This is something we are looking to change.
- Most readers search on Google for "books about x" and land directly on a page at Shepherd. They don't need our search since Google finds it for them.
- Readers use our internal navigation and recommendation engine to follow their curiosity. This is a good thing; if readers prefer this, that might be optimal. I plan to do many user tests in 2023 to explore what users are doing and figure out why.
Further, when people search, they often don't find what they are looking for. Why?
- Most people think in genres, and we have yet to get genres in search (as that was expensive to license and is coming toward Spring 2023). I will add genres soon.
- The search UX sucks; I should never have split it where the visitors have to choose between topics and authors/books. I need one search mechanism to simplify. And I need to move to something that looks more like Google when it returns results.
- The results are limited and flat text. I need to improve the presentation and make them more appealing (as well as randomize them to give authors more options to capture their attention).
- We did the bare minimum to update the results with the new book pages if someone searches for a book/author. We need to entirely revamp search now that we have these pages.
What am I thinking about for version 2.0?
I will revamp the search, but I am unsure about ETA. I'll know more toward the end of 2023.
- I plan to make search look more like Google results. People are used to that, and I don't need to fight that UX trend. I can still get in great book recommendations around that.
- I will do a lot of user testing to see what readers want here. Our mission is book discovery and exploration, so we are unlike most sites that sell you a book and want you to look up the book and find it. We want to help you find a place to start exploring books you might be interested in.
I'll update as I learn more :)