Saturday, February 02, 2008

Advancing Advanced Search

Google advanced search hard to use ...

"Advanced search is the ugly child of interface design -always included, but never loved. Websites have come to depend on their search engines as the volume of content has increased. Yet advanced search functionality has not significantly developed in years. Poor matches and overwhelming search results remain a problem for users. Perhaps the standard search pattern deserves a new look. A progressive disclosure approach can enable users to use precision advanced search techniques to refine their searches and pinpoint the desired results.

In the quest to make web sites more usable, we settled on a pattern of a clean, minimal search box with a link to an advanced search page. Jakob Nielsen recommended, “use an intimidating name like ‘advanced search’ to scare off novice users from getting into the page and hurting themselves.”(1) This model has been successful. Search rivals hierarchical website navigation on many sites and is the primary means of navigation on enormous sites such as Ebay and Amazon. Advanced search, however, has not fared so well, with only a small percentage of users using it.

Why most people don’t use advanced search

Despite its name, advanced search has not advanced very far. There is great power to conquer the overwhelming number of search results, but the current standard presents barriers to users. Specifically,

* The link is often small, vague, and does not describe benefits to the user
* Advanced search pages typically have confusing page design for the few who make it there.
* There is generally poor search revision functionality: Once a search is performed, the “advancedness” is lost. For example, the Google advanced search delivers the standard search results page. You have to get the query right the first time; there is no opportunity to adjust your query."    (Continued via Boxes and Arrows)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Discouraging Advanced Search - Ergonomics

Discouraging Advanced Search


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