We all know that the searchers on our Web sites frequently find search frustrating—it’s simply a more difficult task than most things they do with computers. Because we are all searchers, we can recognize our customers’ thought process when searching, which helps us to design our sites around that knowledge. We all recognize the search pattern: enter a few keywords, see the search results, choose a result to click, and find your answer. There’s just one problem with this simple scenario. It hardly ever happens.

The keyword-result-click scenario is the ideal one. It is the one we keep in our heads when we design our sites. But it is not the way searchers actually behave most of the time.

We need to break out of the tunnel vision that skews our understanding. We need to view the world as our customers do, which is quite difficult. After all, we are experts in the information on our Web sites. We know exactly what words to search for. We know where everything is. It’s terribly hard to forget what you know and look at your site with fresh eyes. But that’s what we need to do.

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