[WikimediaMobile] Revamping search on Wikipedia mobile

Tomasz Finc tfinc at wikimedia.org
Tue Nov 1 20:51:24 UTC 2011

As we've continued with our beta (http://bit.ly/w4E2zn) its becoming
abundantly clear from feedback and our own research that we need to
get better about search. Search is the primary way that people start
their interaction with Wikipedia and we currently do it poor at best
on mobile.

We've taken the first stabs at it

* Change the search input box to stretch to full width (horizontal & landscape)
* Lower the amount of search results and increase the font size of
what we do show
* Include spaces in between results to better segment each item
* Add a "+" to refine search term by term (our search data set will
need to get better to make this more awesome)

Thats already way better then what we've had in the past but we still
need to do more.

We need to make some choices about where we take search next. One
current problem is that were not really using our screen real estate
as effectively as we could on mobile. Whenever I see users using
search their consistently moving forward. Their not interacting with
the content thats on the article that their on and instead they want
something new. If thats the basic case then why should we be wastin
screen real estate on a tiny device that no on is really using. This
is a basic fact of mobile that you need to focus the user on what's
happening not distracting the with noise.

I took a look at a lot of mobile sites and one stuck out to me as
really interesting for search.

bing.com (yes i know its microsoft .. lets pay attention to the design
rather then the ideology)

Go to their site on a mobile (on a mobile) and start typing in text.
Notice how its now stolen your whole screen for search? Its loud but
thats the point. People are searching and moving forward. Not
interacting with the content thats on the screen.

Other good examples

http://www.google.com/m (clean)
http://m.yelp.com/ (really good use of images)

There are other design hurdles to tackle but I think we can do a lot
of good by just tweaking search before we do a big UI redesign.

Lets discuss!


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