Search experience is generally terrible. I’m not talking about Google or general web search (although that also, is terrible), I’m talking about site- or app-specific “context aware” searching. Some recent examples that tipped me over the edge:

  • JIRA: project quick select doesn’t show you anything if you type the actual JIRA key (e.g., XYZS with a project name of XYZ Something)
  • Slack: trying to find channel xyz, it shows me everything that has xyz as a prefix but not the actual channel with that name, so it can’t be selected (not helpful for channel discovery)
  • WTA Tennis: “No such player as Vondrousava” (I was trying to find Vondrousova, of course - surely a low score using Levenshtein distance?)

I also recall that when building Birthdayfy that there was an issue with Spotify returning the wrong track when searching for True Blue by Madonna - it kept returning Papa Don’t Preach, since that was the most played song on the True Blue album, even though I was specifying the song title. I mean, really?

I remember way back when (early 2000s) when I was building a mobile phone game store, I read an article about making search helpful, rather than literal. That article is lost to the mists of time, most likely (I certainly don’t remember where I read it) but it had ideas like just taking the user to the item if the search term had an exact match.

I appreciate it’s not cheap to invest in search, and that how you measure return on that investmemt is not always obvious, but if your site or app offers search capability (and the ‘s’ in Slack is supposed to stand for ‘search’ after all) then I’d say it’s worth giving some attention to.