YoLink: The Future of Find

Yolink’s search technology makes information finding faster. Our relationship with TigerLogic’s yolinkbegan as a quick design project, and grew into a strategic partnership, across a multi-platform product suite including web, desktop, and mobile find tools.

TigerLogic came to us in 2009 with an early iteration of a downloadable browser tool that finds keywords on web pages and “inside” links on page (such as on a search results page), and returns the relevant chunks of text surrounding them so that users can easily evaluate and export the results. Having recently rebranded from “Chunkit” to “yolink,” they were looking for a user experience overhaul and fresh look for a re-launch of the tool.

 


RESEARCH
Originally geared toward research and education, the scope of the yolink products grew over time to include consumer web and desktop searches, content partnerships and design guidelines for developers. Along with this growth came new opportunities to collaborate on design strategy and implementation.

Yolink was an ongoing project for over a year, so whenever new phase of work, we began with an understanding of yolink’s users and their context for using yolink, including their current behaviors and expectations, and needs from a finding tool. We evaluated the existing yolink offering along with a competitive analysis of other search and research tools, examining its role in research, productivity and information sharing via web, desktop, and mobile. Our observations helped us to develop a roadmap for evolving the yolink feature set toward collaboration and social use.

 


DESIGN
Yolink’s technology is impressive, and definitely useful, but there were far too many things in the way of making it usable. The algorithms behind yolink are complex, and the tool itself reflected that complexity. It needed to be simplified—the features, workflow, options, information hierarchy, and color palette—by design.

Streamlining the core product and creating a cohesive design language made it easier to obtain results, and to use them immediately. We began with redesigning the browser tool itself and addressing how people could learn about yolink and start using it. We created a new yolink marketing website, revamped their product communication, and refined the download process itself.


Yolink helps users quickly shift through the results to find what they need. The results pane needed to be clean and ordered, regardless of context.

 

But this was just the start of our work together. Based on our initial design work, we extended the new streamlined yolink experience to the desktop as a plugin for productivity software. We then turned our attention to the cloud, and identified how yolink could partner with 3rd party web and mobile sites to make finding and sharing easier across the Internet.


The mobile platform helped us simplfy the design language.

 

With each new platform we explored, we focused on leveraging consistent design patterns that provided users a familiar experience across products, while honing the functionality for the context of use. For example, while web use is very consumption oriented, those same web users are more focused on productivity while working in word processing tools. Using yolink to lift paragraphs from an old document on your computer while you’re editing is very different from using it to find a recipe with jicama and lime on the web. As a result, yolink desktop emphasizes composition and collaboration, whereas the web versions encourage link sharing and social exchange.

Designing across platforms also allowed us to refine our thinking as we went, applying our learning from each new direction to the existing designs as well. For example, by simplifying the task flows for mobile use, we managed to cut steps from the web interface, and found a simpler way to select and preview yolinks. We implemented this new interaction pattern across the other platforms.


Providing a white label solution challenged us to identify the signature design elements for Yolink’s user experience strategy.

 

In addition to multiple contexts and platforms, we also designed yolink for several types of content partnerships, aimed at incorporating yolink’s technology without distracting from users’ engagement in their own content and websites. To do this well, we needed to create several levels of feature integration and visual branding that met the needs of different partners, while still providing a familiar and consistent experience to existing yolink users across the web.

 


RAPID DEVELOPMENT
We were fortunate to collaborate in rapid development with TigerLogic’s development team to see the results of our work in near-real time. As such, we were able to address any issues and tweak the interfaces as they were built and build on our designs as the products matured.

Each of the products within the yolink product suite is slightly different, but the end goal is the same: finding relevant information, quickly. Creating distinct yolink tools that behave consistently across platforms, familiar to users as yolink regardless of which they’re using in a given context, is key to creating a brand value. For a suite of products whose ease of use belies the complexity of the technology behind them, our collaboration with yolink did just that.

We are continuing to work with yolink to develop tools for the web at large, and we look forward to seeing yolinks throughout the web very soon.

 

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