This is London : Killing a 'killer application'
A search engine that is overly hard to use.
This is London is one of the main news and information sites for the UK capital. It is run by the Evening Standard, part of Associated Newspapers, and mixes constantly-updated news with listings and reviews. Many of the reviews are now in a subscriber-only area. Every visitor can, however, use search engines to find cinemas, clubs, pubs and so on by type and location.
The restaurant homepage has a search box that says “Find me a restaurant/pub called [blank] in [blank]”. It also has a clickthrough to an advanced search, where it is possible to look by type of cuisine, etc..
Search engines should be killer applications of the web, using its interactivity to filter just what you want from the biggest database. The problem, as here, is that many of them are hard to use.
Typing in any postcode – the most obvious criterion – along with a request to list pubs or restaurants yields a “Sorry no results” page. The Help feature suggests typing in an area, such as Covent Garden. This finds 364 restaurants. By trial and error you can find areas that are recognised by the engine, and others that are not. This is frustrating for users, as many of them will naturally put in a postcode and may not even know the name of the area where they want to meet friends (many areas of London are difficult to define).
A poor search engine is worse than no search engine: it would be more useful if we were simply presented with a dropdown list of the alternatives.http://www.thisislondon.com
First published on 07 October, 2003