Findability, as defined by Peter Morville (2005), is the ability of users to identify an appropriate website and navigate the pages of the site to discover and retrieve relevant information resources.
Wurman (1996, p. 16) observes that "The ability to find something goes hand-in-hand with how well it's organized." But locating information resources in the digital environment depends on more than organization. As Morville notes, findability is an inherently interdisciplinary concept that integrates practices of design, engineering, and marketing: Findability encompasses not only issues of organization and representation - two central concerns in the construction of an effective information architecture - but also seeking behaviour, interaction design, branding, search engine optimization, and Web standards, to name but a few of the considerations that can affect findability. The focus on findability is on facilitating and enhancing the user's overall experience with an information resource.
References: Jacob, Elin K. and Loehrlein, Aaron (Indiana University, Bloomington, USA). Information architecture. In: Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST), vol 43(2009). Medford, N.J.: Information Today, Inc. Morville, P. (2005) Ambient findability. Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilly Wurman, R.S. (1996). Information architects. New York: Graphis.
Findability refers to the quality of being locatable or navigable. At the item level, we can evaluate to what degree a particular object is easy to discover or locate. At the system level, we can analyze how well a physical or digital environment supports navigation and retrieval.
Findability is not limited to the World Wide Web. The concept of findability is universal and timeless. However, with a distributed, heterogeneous collection of several billion items, the Web does present unique and important findability challenges.
Findability is not a synonym for information architecture (IA). Information architecture is a discipline concerned with the structural and semantic design of shared information spaces. Findability is a goal of IA, along with usability, desirability, credibility, and accessibility. Many people contribute to the findability of websites and intranets, including writers, designers, and developers.
Peter Morville is most credited to creating the term findability.