On the Road to Improved Information Experiences

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A Customized User Experience

Another growing aspect of effective information experience is the ability to put the user in control of the information with which they're working. John Andrews, vice president of marketing and product management for ebusiness at Endeca Technologies, a search and business intelligence software company, refers to this as "taking the path that matters most to them." Andrews says that one of the core principles of Endeca's approach to information experience is to put the end user in control. Another principle is to allow the content owner or knowledge manager to guide and influence the user experience.

"The analogy I use is that the consumer is saying, ‘Get out of my way, but keep up with me,'" Andrews explains. "The end consumers want to drive the search, but they also want the content owner to make suggestions or show relevant information," based on what is known about specific users, be it past purchases, demographics, or search history. Practically speaking, this means allowing the user to use faceted search to drill down and refine a search and giving tools to content owners to enable them to expose related content that may help users make decisions or find what they're looking for more quickly.

Beyond search, enabling customers to choose exactly how the information appears to them is another key precept for the modern information experience. Letting customers personalize the user interface as they move through the product was a primary goal when Dow Jones released a "refresh" of Factiva.com in April 2011. Users now have a dashboard on which they can monitor news by a specific region, industry, or portfolio of companies. Ricou-Bellan says, "An enterprise can create a default version of the dashboard for their employees, and then employees can create their own views based on their specific information needs." Part of the strategy in simplifying and modernizing via the dashboard approach, according to Ricou-Bellan, is also "to be a simple entry to Factiva" for users who might not have used the legacy version of the product.

Similarly, in March 2011, LinkedIn rolled out a news sharing feature called LinkedIn Today that enables users to view the business news most shared by industry and peer group contacts. Users can further customize their views of the news by sources and narrow their views of comments on specific articles using LinkedIn Signal's faceted search tool; this allows them to see only what connections in certain industries, locations, or companies are saying.

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