December 13th, 2006
Whenever I’m in an unfamiliar city, I always ask someone at the hotel, the bellhop, doorperson, or receptionist, what their favorite restaurants are. In my experience, this is a foolproof way to find the best restaurants. Instead of going online and searching for some place, or looking in the phonebook, I ask somebody. I don’t want just any old answer. I want a recommendation.
Instead of spending hours sifting through a myriad of data, people look for recommendations in order to save time and frustration while researching a certain product, place, or service. How many times have you been asked what you think of your car, a vacation spot, or cell phone provider? Valuable, and more often than not, reliable information is only one question or click away.
Recommendation systems are becoming an extremely important business and marketing tool for many web sites. These systems use sophisticated algorithms to record user behavior, find correlations among the data, and produce recommendations based on them. What better way to entice a user than to predict their tastes and preferences? Netflix, who rents two-thirds of their movies through recommendations, has even gone so far as to offer a $1 million prize to anyone who can improve the current version of their system by 10 percent.
In this issue of UIEtips, Josh Porter dives into the fast-emerging world of recommendation systems. You’ll discover what Josh thinks are the most important benefits of these systems, what their serious drawbacks are, and where recommendation systems will be going in the future.
What recommendation systems have you encountered? Have you been delighted, offended, surprised, or unfazed by the recommendations you received? Let us know what you think. Leave us a comment and join the discussion below.
[If you find this article interesting, I encourage you to join us in Monterey, California this January for our UIE Web App Summit. Josh will present his short-talk, Learning from Social Web Applications, and Rashmi Sinha of Uzanto will be presenting Design Strategies for Web-based Recommender Systems. You don't want to miss out. See the summit website for more details.]Tweet