Search Useability

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Jakob Nielsen has recently published an article titled: Mental Models For Search Are Getting Firmer. The article basically states that if your sites search functionality behaves different from Google, that users will get confused. He identifies three common elements of search that users have come to expect:

  • A box where they can type words
  • A button labeled "search"
  • A list of top results that's linear, prioritized, and appears on a new page -- the search engine results page (SERP)

In regards to advanced search Nielsen says:

Finally, advanced search that combines keyword searching with other search forms can be helpful, but it should be a secondary option that's only displayed when users ask for it.

This is where I'm not sure if I agree or not because I thought I came up with a good way of doing advanced search on my site dealazon. When the page is loaded all the user sees is the search box, and the search button - if the user decides they want to search, when the search text box has focus, the advanced search features popup below the search box.

The reason I thought that was a good feature is that while advanced search is handy, most people don't use it because its an extra click away. I suppose the one thing I need to convey is that the advanced search options, are in-fact optional, you can leave them as the defaults, and your search is not refined.

What do you think?



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