What search results would make a website most useful?
Thread poster: David Russi

David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 13, 2010

I have a client who localized a website intended to collect data about a certain topic from users all over the world to create a trusted portal for good, reliable resources (other websites) on the subject of environmental satellites. The site, which is now being localized into Spanish, may eventually be translated in as many as six other languages. Essentially, all resources in the database can be searched through a set of guided keywords chosen by the users who originally submitted the material to the database, or via free keyword entry by the user searching.

While testing the Spanish, I realized that when searching with the guided keywords (all translated), I would come up with one or two hits, finding the very few resources available in Spanish, but using the English equivalent keywords expanded my results greatly, giving me access a wealth of material.

Upon reflection, it became clear to me that the translation of the keywords was reducing the site's usefulness for the user, since even the most common term (satélite, for example) was giving very little information at all. This of course also reflects the reality that in this field there is a lot of information in English, and much less in Spanish.

Since the point of the site is to give useful information to a worldwide user community, the current setup does not seem to be effective. So, what would be the best way to approach this, keeping the foreign speaker in mind, and not knowing exactly who our public is, since the interested community could span research scientists, students, local forecasters and many others?

1. Localize the keywords, and only search for the content in the user's language. This produces few results in the user's language, and while the information retrieved will be most useful, the user might feel discouraged at the site's apparent lack of content.

2. Localize the keywords, but nor internally, so the basic search is still performed with the English keywords. This will only bring up materials in English, and for a lot of users, the site will immediately seem useless.

3. Localize the keywords, but allow the search to retrieve resources in other languages (predominantly English, but also French, Chinese, Russian, etc.). This produces the most results, but it is unclear to me whether users who are using Spanish to search would generally want the English results, let alone Chinese or Russian. From a user's perspective, would this increase the site's usefulness, or would it create too much noise?

4. Other?

Also, under scenario 3, what would be the best way to present results? My client is concerned about the cultural implications of allowing the English results mixed up in a Spanish search, they fear users would be put off by the fact that they get results in English (though that is clearly inevitable, since they cannot translate all that information).

It may be possible to sort the results by language, and if they agree to that, I personally can envision showing Spanish results first and then English (most results), then other languages, but perhaps for a Spanish speaker it would be better for the results to be sorted Spanish/Portuguese/French/Italian and then English.

But what about other languages? If the site is eventually translated in Russian, or Arabic, what results should be shown first? Would many Russian speakers want results in Arabic, or Spanish? What about English?

Other ideas? I would appreciate enormously all insights on this...





[Edited at 2010-02-13 14:22 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:51
English to German
+ ...
Some hints Feb 13, 2010

Don't base the keywords on your own translation alone.

Use synonyms (it does NOT matter if they are correct)

Add technical terms that are used by competitors only

Use all the different kinds of written forms that you can think of in terms of hyphenation, separate words, word constructions etc.

Last but not least: Add a range of your keywords INCLUDING the most common spelling errors.


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I cannot just add keywords... Feb 13, 2010

unfortunately.

The guided keywords (which are user provided) appear on a page with checkboxes that allow user selection: the user chooses the keywords and gets results based on that, or enters terms and hopes to get results.

Ones example, "Jet streak" is in the list of keywords, but "Jet maxima" is not. Searching for Jet will give you results (they could be related to jet maxima, but also to jet stream), but searching for "maxima" will not get you anything.

Thank you, Nicole, for your suggestions, which are great; I have already included some variants when possible, though space is limited on the pages, so I cannot go too far with it. However, as I have no control over the design that is already there, I can only try to find the best way to make the site useful to the user in terms of what to display, and how best to present it.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:51
English to German
+ ...
My listed German keywords exceed the list of given keywords Feb 13, 2010

David Russi wrote:
I have already included some variants when possible, though space is limited on the pages, so I cannot go too far with it. However, as I have no control over the design that is already there, I can only try to find the best way to make the site useful to the user in terms of what to display, and how best to present it.


It is something that I learned from my clients - search engines, e-commerce and the software developers whose system is used by a particular online retailer starting with "A" and ending with ".com". When you say "keywords" - is it possible that you refer to the tag words that will display at mouse-over? Then we might talk about two different things.


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Look here Feb 13, 2010

On the search page, click guided keyword search, then pick a category:

http://www.meted.ucar.edu/esrc/results.php


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:51
English to German
+ ...
Nice - thanks, David! Feb 13, 2010

David Russi wrote:

On the search page, click guided keyword search, then pick a category:

http://www.meted.ucar.edu/esrc/results.php



So we are talking about search terms within the website which is a different story. Indeed, at least two thirds of all terms offered are in English. To fix this, however, is the job of the IT people.


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Cedomir Pusica  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 16:51
Member (2009)
English to Serbian
+ ...
A suggestion Feb 13, 2010

What I would do, if possible, is mix up the points no. 1 and no. 3, in that I would allow for contents to be shown in Spanish only that were searched using Spanish keywords. However, I would also provide for a posibility of viewing non-Spanish contents, but under a different heading, that would go below, something like this:

Enter keyword: satélite

Results:

Los scientíficos muy preocupados por el futuro de satélite ruso...
Satélitos rotos
¿Cómo puedes construir un satélite para tu propria casa?

¿Quiere ver resultados para "satélite" en otras idiomas? Haga un click aquí.

If they can pull this one off I believe the Spanish speaking people would be even grateful.

Regards


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great suggestion, Cedomir, Thanks! Feb 13, 2010

Cedomir Pusica wrote:

What I would do, if possible, is mix up the points no. 1 and no. 3, in that I would allow for contents to be shown in Spanish only that were searched using Spanish keywords. However, I would also provide for a posibility of viewing non-Spanish contents, but under a different heading...



I think this is actually feasible, I will speak to the project engineer about the possibility of such an alternative.


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