Combine browse page into search page

Description of your request or bug report:
I wonder if there’s any merit in having the Popular Books page?
Whenever I want to have a look at the search, I intuitively click the top link in the “Browse” dropdown, which happens to be Popular Books. Then I’m greeted by “choose your level”, even though I just want to have an overview. If I choose a level, I only get a limited selection of books and I end up clicking on the “show more” tab anyway, which leads me to the search page I was looking for to begin with.
The “All Books” page has much more info and just feels less restrictive (it shows you stuff immediately instead of forcing you to pick a level), and it’s sorted by popular by default anyway. Ultimately the “Popular Books” also only leads back to “All Books” (pre-filtered by type, even though I might just want to have a general overview).

For me, it would always be preferable to click on “All Books” and then pick a JLPT level on there or an even wider level range (and a book type if wanted), instead of “Popular Books” → JLPT level dropdown → only a few books are shown → click on “more” → end up at “All Books”/“All Manga” or similar.

Or are there any other significant differences I’m missing?

Trello link: (leave in blank)

I honestly had no idea that this page even existed. I wonder how much that page actually gets used, maybe Brandon has some stats on that. Usually, I just click the hourglass icon on the search bar which brings me to the same place as the all books page, so I guess my brain filtered out the entire browse button. I know the site has a similar feature for new users if you are signed out of the site, which makes sense because L30?? probably isn’t the first thing you want to show new people. Though, I don’t know if it’s that useful to us already signed up.

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Yeah I have the same issue. I always regret clicking Poplar Books because my head assumes it will be the most popular books on the site regardless of level, or maybe the top X most popular of each level, but instead I have to choose and that feels like unnecessary friction to me.

I’m pretty sure Brandon has tracking of some basic user behavior re: site usage so perhaps he has more insight into how many people turn back when they get to popular books.

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Ooh that’s nice to know, thanks for the tip! :smiley:

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I think it might be for people new to the page - only one decision to take (“What’s your level?”), and then you get a minimal overview over which categories of books are available, and which are the most popular for that category/level. Another difference is that it displays books for all categories, but not mixed, so you, the new visitor, can get an overview and pick the category simply by scrolling. It’s less useful than the search, but the lack of options also means that there is less a new visitor has to take in. I feel like it’s pretty well designed for that purpose.

I remember using it when I was starting out with Natively.

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That’s right :slight_smile: If you go to the Natively home page, you’ll notice the browse page figures quite prominently as I think that does the best job for new users.

TBH, most websites seem to push ‘browse’ pages with rows of configured content rather than large search pages for browsing. Examples:

The main reason is to just get highly engaging content in your face and laid out in an orderly fashion… which isn’t easy to do on a search page.

All that being said though, I agree that having a ‘browse’ page and a ‘search’ page is confusing… as more advanced users almost always just want search.

I like the solution AniList offers, which is to bake in the browse page inside the search page… and just default configured rows of content when there are no filters.

I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to drop the browse page… I’m still not sure. So very much an open question in my mind!

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I think what I dislike most about the browse page is that it forces me to choose my level before showing me anything. I don’t actually mind the horizontal rows that much.
Maybe an AniList style compromise where it shows you the rows for all JLPT levels first, with an additional toggle for level range on top, could work. At least that would feel less restrictive and less “wait why do I have to specify my JLPT level now when I just wanted to have a look around!”
It’s very possible that the search filter is what makes the results feel less overwhelming for beginners/new users, so this is only my personal impression, since I don’t care about level filters as much anymore
Maybe another thing I don’t like about the level filter is that it’s non-inclusive for lower levels. When I pick N1, I exclusively get books in that exact level range, instead of popular books from e.g. the 30-45 range. I basically have to try and search around for the range where the bulk of popular books are located.

Or maybe it’s actually fine as it is :smiley: I do have my workaround now with the “search” button on the search bar. Just some additional thoughts if you were to change it someday.

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I personally like having a popular books page, but it’d be nice to have an option that is an “overall” category just by default rather than make you choose by level. Let the filter be optional: we can already tell the estimated level of difficulty of the reading material by the ratings, after all.

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I like the popular books page in theory, though it would indeed be nice to not have to pick a level first. Maybe it can remember the previous selection via browser caching or maybe the user can specify their current level in settings if there are more places where having a default level selected would be useful. The thing I like about the popular books page is the “at a glance” view of the most popular books of each type (manga, LNs, novels) for the selected level.

That said, I don’t really understand what it means to be “popular” right now. Take these for example:

They aren’t sorted by number of ratings, nor by number of users who finished reading them, nor by users who finished reading + are currently reading. I suppose all that’s left is the number of users who have put the book anywhere on their list, but there’s no way to see that information short of scrolling through the Activity section, which makes it a bit confusing to me.

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I was guessing it was based on page views for each book. :thinking: That’s complete speculation, of course.

That’s a fair point and an easy change :slight_smile:

That is correct, it’s the number of people that have it anywhere in their library (finished, reading, wish list, etc), which I do think is the right metric… Re:Zero, Monogatari and Spice & Wolf as the most popular N1 LNs does make sense to me.

Fair enough though that I could surface that popularity index information…

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Ok, I see this as a few requests then:

  • Add default ‘overall’ query for browse page so you don’t have to filter by difficulty level if you don’t want (small task)
  • surface popularity index information (small task)
  • Combine browse page into search page, like anilist (speculative)

@Megumin While those should be separate trello tickets, I’m not sure we need separate threads for all of them? Up to you. @Myria I may change your title to the ‘combine browse page into search page’ and update the description a little, if that’s ok!

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Maybe we can create a thread for the speculative task, to still gather feedback if anyone wants to add something, and the two other small tasks remain under this one?

Wouldn’t that be trending instead of popular? I would consider Popular actual reads/owns, not just views or wishlists.

I mean, when there’s no indication how popularity’s measured, and no separate Trending filter, it seemed reasonable at the time. :person_shrugging:

I’m just speculating, I have no idea of how the system is building those lists.

Brandon confirmed it here:

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I think that’s splitting hairs a bit :laughing:

If I had to specify a difference, I’d say trending is ‘currently popular’ and that ‘popular’ can be over a larger timeframes. Often times for popular filters you can specify a time frame (this week, this month, all time…etc).

The popular metric I use is simply an all-time popular metric. As for whether or not to count inclusion in non-reading lists, that’s certainly a reasonable discussion, but tbh I feel quite strongly that the current system is better indicator of ‘popularity’ than a ‘most-read’ metric would be… the latter would be too exclusionary imo :slight_smile:

We could leave this thread as a speculative thread, you’re right. I guess I felt it was duplicative to have a ‘combine browse w search’ thread and a ‘remove browse page’ thread, but if you don’t mind opening up both threads, we can do that!

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This has been created, for people interested in those, go cast your vote on that thread if you want:

I have also went ahead and edited the title of the thread, to leave this one as speculative / seeking for feedback.