Search Interaction: Thingiverse.com Redesign

Thingiverse.com is a website for downloading free 3D models of objects. Its search features are decent for beginner hobbyists and younger audiences, but it is lacking in its offerings for more technically-minded users. Some inadequacies are apparent to even a novice user, such as the lack of breadcrumbs in the navigation or predictive search. The search is unsuccessful for advanced users because the filters and facets do not index meaningful information about the 3D models. Some information that would be valuable as a Filter or a Facet would be “type of printer used”, “material used”, “volume of 3D object”. See below the screen captures of these unsuccessful search features.

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Redesign of Search Interaction: Thingiverse.com

  1. Predictive Search: Speeds up search for expert users and creates an exploratory experience for novice users. In the current Thingiverse.com website, expert users must fully type the name of the 3D model, but with predictive search they can find the model after typing only a few letters. Novice users that might not know exactly what they’re looking for will also benefit from predictive search’s recommendations for 3D models and category suggestions such as “toys” or “housewares”.
  2. Breadcrumbs: Lets users zoom out if they narrow the search results too much. In the current website, the user must use the internet browsers back feature to broaden the search results, or they can de-select facets by scrolling down to them. It would be better to have a trail of breadcrumbs sitting under the top navigation.
  3. Remove the redundant search bar: Currently, there is a second search bar that appears after the user searches for an item. This second search bar is misleading because it doesn’t search within the search results, but rather conducts an entirely new search. The space on the website would be put to better use with filters and facets to narrow the results.
  4. Technical Facets & Filters: The current website is geared towards non-technical users and community activities, but it isn’t functional for engineers and other technical users (which I imagine make up a decent share of the site’s visitors). Technical users want to understand things like the size of the print, the material used, the printer resolution required, and whether support material is needed. I added facets for these criteria and I plan to also have a filter for “no support material required”.

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