Search Log Analysis Book

Lou Rosenfeld is coauthoring a book on search log analysis. Excellent!

Based on my recent posting, it might not come as a huge surprise that I’m co-authoring (with Rich Wiggins) a new book on search log analysis (SLA). I’m happy to report that we’re already a couple chapters deep and I’m actually enjoying the process of writing, which usually requires a lot more self-discipline than my genetic programming supports.

I’m gung-ho on SLA because it seems so obvious, and yet it’s still uncommon in the worlds of UCD and, more broadly, web design. Rich and I hope our book helps clear away many barriers to SLA–practical, technical, and political–by collecting both how-to info and justification in a single, short book.

When I was at ASHA, we found that reviewing our search logs on a regular basis told us a lot of great information about what people are looking for and where we needed to pay some attention. We would identify searches that didn’t return the appropriate content and we would take steps to tweak the content to float up higher or do it manually through best bet links. We would also identify searches for which we had no content, giving us great ideas on what we should add to the site.

Can’t wait to see what Lou and Rich come up with in the book.

Announcing High Context Consulting!

I am very excited to announce that I am going to be leaving my current position at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association this June to launch my own consulting firm, High Context Consulting, LLC.

Working for myself has been a long-time dream of mine and the time finally seemed right to make the jump. ASHA has been a great place for me over the past 5 years and I will really miss working with the wonderful web staff. I view the stuff we did together at ASHA as the best work in my career so far. Thanks to David T, Tule, Kat, Brenda, Dwayne and Glen for creating such a great team!

So, what kind of work will I be doing? It essentially boils down to helping membership organizations use the Web and web-based technologies more effectively and aligning those efforts with their over goals. For the long version, read my newly designed site:

I will continue to write this weblog, posting more frequently I hope. Wish me luck and send referrals! 🙂

Hiring: Community and Intranet Manager

Ever wanted to manage a staff intranet and a member community for a large membership organization in Rockville, MD? Have I got an opportunity for you! 🙂

The Community and Intranet Manager works on our Community and Knowledge Management team along with myself and Brenda, our Knowledge Manager. I think it is a wonderful position, in that you get to play (er, work) with a lot of fun technology, partner with some of the best web staff in the association world, and facilitate our member and staff communities.

Follow the link above for details on the job (including starting salary range) and how to apply.

Managing Search and Taxonomy

Lou Rosenfeld’s recent post on where to position search and taxonomy management within the organization was a nice validation of how we have it set up at our office. According to Lou:

To rant a bit, it really drives me nuts to hear people talk of “search and IA” (which they often understand as browsable taxonomies). This is an absolutely false distinction, and leads to poor search design, poor taxonomy design, and perhaps worst of all, missed opportunities to better integrate the two to support finding, IA’s ultimate goal. For example, search often is greatly improved when it leverages metadata tags. Metadata therefore should be designed with search in mind. So why separate teams? I don’t see any good reason, just a lot of bad ones.

At ASHA, we have two teams in the Web Cluster (our label for a division): the Content Management Team (CMT) and the Knowledge and Community Management Team (KCMT). CMT has responsibility for IA, visual design, general content development and managing the stream of content that comes from our 40+ content contributors. KCMT is responsible for managing our search engine, the ASHA intranet, the member community, online events and the ASHA thesaurus of terms. Both teams sit next to each other in our office and have easy access to one another. We also have a full staff meeting every two weeks where the topic of discussion is often on how we can improve the overall findability of content and services on our site by tweaking our search, metadata, etc.

While they are technically two separate teams, they operate as one in effect. I’m very happy with how well this arrangement has been working for us.

Association Trends Awards

If I can chisel my car out of our third or fourth ice storm of the season (ug!) I’ll be heading down to the Capital Hilton for the Association Trends Awards Program. ASHA’s web site got a bronze award this time in the association web site category, our magazine got a silver, and one our PSA campaigns got the gold!

One of the most exciting awards for our team though was the gold in the foundation web site category. Our content management team worked with ASHA’s foundation staff to redevelop their web site, which was still using the same look created for it in the mid-90s as a donation from Microsoft. Our content team and the foundation staff should be very proud of what they developed together.