So, on my main site, I have been repeatedly running user testing to improve the site. One of the things I find very frustrating is that repeatedly, when I ask a user to locate information on the site, they NEVER use the search function. And then they complain that it is hard to find that article. Our analytics indicate this is the same for the general visitor to the site. Only about 2.5% ever use the search box to find information.
I know, I know... you should design based on how the user uses your site. And we have. When the complaint was the categories had too many articles to wade through, we completly overhauled the structure. Then the complaint was there were too many categories to go through. So we simplified the clickpath so it was easier to get through the categories, but then they complained that it was too many clicks.
You have to understand, we have 1000s of articles. There is no easy way to structure things so that it is all easy to get to. And frankly, that is why search engines were invented. To orginize information, to make it easy to find.
So how can I encourage people to use the search box on the site more? For their own benefit?