You might have noticed a change to the World Bank website search  over the last month. In December 2009, we launched changes to the site search. These changes included an updated look-and-feel, additional database sources, and additional search options and tools.
This intermediate release represents our efforts to address the voice of our website users, who have expressed low satisfaction with the site search. We’ve been formally measuring online customer satisfaction since 2007, and our results have shown consistently low satisfaction within two areas of the website: search and navigation. ('Content,' by the way, receives the highest satisfaction score). Well, it's about time we do something to address this issue!
I should note that for the moment, the changes are only present on the English website, with other languages targeted for future releases.
Within the next year or so, you’ll see even more extensive changes to the search and underlying technology. In the mean time, we want to know what our users think about our current changes! That feedback will help us prioritize new features and make improvements in the future.
We conducted a usability assessment of the new site search to determine areas for future improvement. We interviewed 12 users about their experience with the website search, and discovered the following:
- Tabs within search results often went unnoticed
- Users appreciated the improved ability to narrow results by facets, but found our facets a bit confusing
- Users expected the "All" tab to incorporate results from every section/tab. [Obvious, right? But, due to limitations in our search technology and the way our information is stored across multiple, separate databases, this has been an ongoing challenge!]
- Users expected to see more up-to-date results
- Users would appreciate the ability to search for people or authors of certain reports
- Speed is improved, but still a concern, particularly for users outside the United States
I oversee the usability testing for the World Bank website, and I’m always eager to learn more about how our various audiences use the site. The user testing we performed on our new search revealed terrific insights about the needs and preferences of our various audience segments.
We’re constantly striving to improve, so if you do have a chance to use the new search, please send your feedback  to our search team or leave a comment below! Do elements of the interface confuse or help you? Are you obtaining useful results? How can we improve your ability to narrow the results? How is the speed/performance in your region of the world? Did you experience any errors?
Tell us, we want to know!