One change we introduced recently is the increased user ‘pressure’ to log in.  A few people have contacted me to raise this as an issue and it made me realise we’ve added a barrier to use of Trip but we’ve not communicated why.  So, here goes…

Ultimately it’s part of a longer-term strategy to improve Trip and this requires us to better understand our users (which requires the user to be logged in).

Some background; my partners Dad was an eminent Professor of Anaesthetics (now retired) and I showed him Trip, and he said he’d use it for a bit.  He came back unimpressed!  His interest was in awareness, and a search for awareness on Trip (click here) returns no articles on awareness under anaesthesia, which was his interest/intention (see for yourself).

While this is an extreme example it does highlight that, without knowing the user, how can we optimise the search results?  Our system should have realised that the user was an anaesthetist and adjusted the results accordingly.  We’re doing lots of work on this area and are making real strides.  I blogged about in March with the article The important breakthrough which contained the following image:

As you can see from the results (in this experimental test system) we have detected the example user as a dentist and adjusted the results accordingly.  For an information retrieval ‘nerd’ (like myself) this is amazing.  I can think of no other innovation Trip has introduced that will come close to improving the search results as this. 

And there are loads more things we can do if we know the user. For instance improved email alerts – better linking users with evidence that is likely to be interesting and useful, as opposed to our current crude efforts!

But for it to work we need to know the user, which requires logging in.