Basic Search

The definition of ‘Simple’ requires a whole discussion…but typically, simplicity can be afforded by reducing the amount of pre-requisite knowledge the user needs to have and the number of decisions the user needs to make before taking action.


The screenshot below provides a good opportunity to discuss a number of usability issues to consider when constructing a 'Simple Search'.
1. A text disclaimer such as the one here: “For more search options, use the advanced search below” is more effective if placed at the footer of the box, after the user had an opportunity to review the capabilities of this search control.

2. The actual search field is small and does not indicate the ability to enter a phrase. Entering more than a single keyword will hide part of the term. Finally, the label ‘Enter Keyword(s) which implies discrete words, conflicts the option to check ‘Exact phrase’ which suggests the ability to enter more than a keyword.

3. The option to ‘Restrict by Type’ may confuse the user. Typically, from a user’s perspective, ‘Full Text’ suggests WHERE the search is taking place – on the full texts of the documents. Here, the full text is presented as a type of data, which is correct, but also not very intuitive. Finally, many users may still not know what metadata means. (certainly, users of a ‘simple search’ are not quite the audience that should be expected to know. Note that by default this section is collapsed. The user needs to click and see the choices. Given that there is a default (which is always good), why not show the default, and clicking that will allow the user to see the other choices and make a change. Better yet, consider eliminating this choice all together.

4. Again, the user needs to make a decision about option that may not be clear, or, appear too restrictive. It is quite likely that the user would like to see all the details, so this choice is more appropriate in the display of the result set. Note that by default this section is collapsed. The user needs to click and see the choices. Given that there is a default (which is always good), why not show the default, and clicking that will allow the user to see the other choices and make a change. Better yet, consider eliminating this choice all together and using it in the search results page.