/ BLOG / Search bar support challenges

If you’re even slightly geeky you will have seen any of several articles in the last 2 years that state “the URL is dead”. With the inclusion of the search box in many browsers this is starting to become true, and is starting to present some interesting support challenges.

Every now and then you will need someone to visit a specific site, and you might not be able to connect to the user’s device to assist. The solution in most cases is to politely educate the user (or get another user to assist) and move on, but I have had a few users who have been unable to understand the concept that the address/location input is actually what we’re looking for. Perhaps the user has removed or shrunk the location bar so that its really insignificant, or perhaps they’re just really too stressed to follow simple instructions.

For publically accessible websites the answer is to ensure that your site can be reliably found via all the major search engines, and have a link if necessary. This means that SEO becomes an important feature of your support framework. This is scary but something that very well will become a genuine systems and support concern.

Things get worse for internal-only addresses. In theory you shouldn’t be in the position where you’re not able to remotely assist a user inside of your own network, but lets face it, shit does happen - or it might be a guest/embedded device (such as a WiFi enabled phone). Whats the answer in this instance? Application level filtering and redirection in your proxy server(s)?