Musings: Browsing vs. Searching

Our short musings on design, branding, business and the human condition.

I haven’t been in a comic book store in at least seven months. I get pubs electronically on my iPad now. I just happened by a comic book store last week, in Chicago’s Loop, and was drawn in. It’s a different experience.

Electronic everything is turning whole industries and business models on their heads. It happened to music. Publishing is the latest. But just because songs, stories and images can be served up on a screen and delivered much like their printed or published counterparts doesn’t mean that the entire experience is duplicated.

Browsing is different than searching. Searching is “need it today,” task oriented, goal-focused — all on the act of getting or acquiring, comparing or contrasting.

Browsing is different. It’s the longer, meandering road to the same destination. But along the way it introduces nuance, context, and the serendipity of discovery. Things look different when categorized in ways the don’t bend to the whim of user-generated search results or keyword association.

Magazine racks have context. Book stores have ambiance. Clothing displays create connection in ways that disassociated products do not. A thin layer of rich, nuanced, personal experience can often get stripped away if a brand isn’t careful. It takes smart people to understand the value of that experience and know when it can’t be replicated.

Tomorrow Is A Great Time For Design

Tomorrow is a great time for design

Ferris Bueller said it well:

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

It seems like every other day introduces a new platform, initiative, standard or way of working that forces us to question (if not completely rethink) what we do as designers and how we work.

The changes in our design landscape are ubiquitous and cut across disciplines and borders: gestural computing, social media, ePubs, mobile devices, outsourcing, cloud computing, 3D printing, design thinking – but it’s not going to help us to be afraid of these changes. In some small ways, our own moment seems to parallel the seismic shift in technology that began with the introduction of affordable desktop publishing in the mid-80s.
Read on…