Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become

Reviewed October 31st, 2006 @ 02:44PM

[Book Cover] Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become

Ambient Findability by Peter Morville took me back to my days of college. I initially purchased this book due to it’s high reference from other respected designers and developers. My first inclination was that the book would be about SEO or something along those lines. Though the book was small, it packed a big punch of information! I was pleasantly surprised at what this book had to offer.

This book went much deeper than I expected. As a disclaimer, I had many of my coworkers laugh when I told them the title of the book I was reading. However, I had a quick response as to what the book contained as the author quickly defines both ambient and findability. The author starts by giving background to how we come to find things. Not just as humans, he takes it to an even smaller scale discussing how ants find their way during their long journeys. Though this may seem odd, it helps to really put things into perspective. How do we find things? Do we all find things the same way? In relation to the web — what words or phrases do we use to find things? Do we use broad terms or more specific (long tail) terms?

This book is very tough to review, as I felt it was packed with so much information. The only way for me to really elaborate would be to put it into context, and by that time you could have read the book. The information packed in this book has really opened me up to an array of new questions related to searching. Outside of the context of the web, how do people find things? Inside of the web, how do people find things? I constantly monitor our analytics at Barbour Publishing, Inc. and watch how people find us, and where they go from there. Did they get the answer they were seeking? Was their search relevant? What terms did they use? What order were the terms? What punctuation is used? What did some of the other similar searches look like? What did their other searches look like? What did the spellings look like? So many aspects to look into — and then refine to make sure people can find the information they are seeking. Sometimes simple ‘like’ queries aren’t enough. Sometimes the index needs to be refined to incorporate stopwords, mis-spellings, aliases, and other pertinent information. Understanding the core principles, findings, and research will help you build a strong foundation and core.

I have found this to be extremely valuable and applicable to web development and answering the deeper questions. As stated earlier, this book is rather small in size but packs a big punch content wise. The author avoids ‘fluff’ or trying to tell stories, and simply dives into the core (which is sometimes even scary) — which is often times backed by a significant amount of research and supplemental resources.

Though this book is not directly related to web development — the lessons learned here can be applied to that medium. If you are a web developer, SEO expert, or simply want to know how people find things (and their decision process) — then this a book for you.

The book is very well written, very easy to read, and follows a logical progression.