From time-to-time, in an effort to improve the overall site experience, Gawker runs A/B tests on various features of our blogs. As we examine the results of these tests, we will try to publish the results here, to give some perspective on features we are testing and how we think they improve (or don't improve) the site.
A major internal goal here at Gawker Media is to improve content discovery for our readers: almost 2,000 new posts go up every day and we want to help our readers find things that they care about.
Three weeks ago, Lauren, Kyle and Casey started testing a new search bar. Instead of hiding search inside a menu, we placed a subtle search icon at the top of the page.
Unsurprisingly, this led to a huge increase in search volume: about 70% more searches than we were seeing with the old design. While the percentage of visitors searching is still very low, we're pleased to see the improvement.
Unfortunately, though we are getting more people to use search, our ultimate goal numbers (measures of discovery and re-circulation) haven't improved: they've stayed pretty stable. I suspect this is because our current search page isn't doing a good enough job surfacing useful results for most readers. However, I'm hoping that the additional search data we'll see will help us improve our existing search, or at least give us enough volume to evaluate vendors in the future.
Still, we consider this a design improvement: making readers aware of search both allows readers more ways to interact with our site and helps us better understand reader intent. We've rolled out this change across all blogs as of last week.