Discovering Findability Requirements from Customer Scenario Maps

Building Your Search and Navigation Approach

May 12, 2005

A high-quality customer experience generally rests on your delivery of an adequate seeker experience. So understanding your customers’ findability requirements is critical—but it’s hard to do. You have to get inside your customers’ heads. Our findability requirements discovery methodology explains how to do this.


In this report, we demonstrate our five-step findability requirements discovery methodology, which can help you build high-quality search and navigation for your Web sites and applications. The five steps of the methodology are:

1. Perform Customer Scenario ® Mapping.
2. Identify the key questions and answers.
3. Determine the search and navigation criteria.
4. Negotiate findability.
5. Monitor results.

Unlike other search requirements discovery methods, which focus on the structure and storage of your information, ours starts with understanding the needs of your business (using our Customer Scenario Mapping methodology) and then spells out how to determine requirements from the customer’s perspective.



Most people we’ve talked with would like to believe that search and navigation is an IT project: Buy some technology, slap it in, and you’re done.

Nope, sorry. To achieve (and maintain) adequate findability, you’ll need to manage it. You’ll need a team to establish a taxonomy and identify the metadata needed. Then you’ll need to assign responsibility for evolving the taxonomy and metadata as information, seekers, and seeker requirements change. You also need to monitor results, to see whether you’re delivering adequate Quality of Customer ExperienceSM (QCE). Any search and navigation paths that don’t produce high-quality results require action: Add synonyms, add or change the information, add or change metadata, and/or reclassify information.

Search and Navigation Technology

Technology can to some extent make up for poor information organization and management. Premium search engines can classify information, cluster concepts, extract metadata, and report on the quality of search results. But technology won’t eliminate the need to manage findability.

Customer Perspective

The quality of the results you present to seekers rests in large measure on your understanding of what they are trying to do and how they view the world.

I was recently attempting to manage my son’s student loan at The task I wanted to perform was well laid out, and it was very easy to find the Web page for managing loans. But I crashed into the ultimate obstacle: I did not happen to know if a PLUS loan is a FFELP, a private, a HEAL, or an SLM loan. I clicked through the pages, but my confusion only increased.

We all know that we need to present information from the viewpoint of the customer, or seeker. But it is hard to do, because we are experts on our information, and we aren’t typically performing the seeker’s job. So we offer mysterious choices such as: Web pages or knowledgebase entries; service or support; problem reports or help requests; classes or events; articles or reports; or PDFs or documents. The not-so-subtle message here is that the seeker will have to ask his question just right, and ask it a number of times, to collect the information he needs.

We’re about to demonstrate a method for having the customer perspective drive your findability strategy. If you follow it, your customers will be successful in finding the information they need and in completing their tasks.


Five Steps, Starting with Customer Scenarios

In our findability requirements discovery methodology, we are concerned with discovering the requirements seekers have for findability.

Our methodology revolves around your business and the work required to fulfill the needs of your customers, partners, and internal constituents. We achieve this business focus by starting with our Customer Scenario ® Mapping methodology.

The findability requirements process has the following five steps:

1. Perform Customer Scenario ® Mapping.
2. Identify the key questions and answers.
3. Determine the search and navigation criteria.
4. Negotiate findability.
5. Monitor results.

The first three steps can be accomplished within a single department--for example, the Web marketing team, the product support manager, or the customer service manager. In step 4, the instigators need to approach other groups who ...


1) For more information on CSM, see “ Saving Customers’ Time: Master Customer Scenario Design ,” by Patricia B. Seybold, June 7, 2001.

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