Progressive disclosure of search options

30 January 2008 at 17:56 Leave a comment

Writing recently at Boxes and Arrows, Stephen Turbek advocates Advancing Advanced Search. I agree with his articulation that “The essential problem of search — too many irrelevant results — has not gone away.” and that most implementations of Advanced Search make little contribution to fixing the problem.

Little contribution because:

  • The link to advanced search is usually small and hard to find
  • Advanced search pages are usually confusing
  • Functionality is often little more than with simple search and it’s hard to revise your query
  • You have to make a choice between doing a search and clicking a link to do a search. “In other words, do you want it now, or want to go somewhere else to look?”

After a brief review of alternative approaches – defined parameters, drilling down on tags, and facets, Turbek suggests an alternative approach of progressively disclosing further options.

So after the initial search, a user is presented with a very visible options box above the results. Once the user has invoked this, further options could be built up.

Progressive disclosure of search options

Of course, this is best suited to an enterprise or e-commerce context, where there is likely to be more metadata and users may be more accustomed to filtering their results.

Nevertheless it’s an interesting way of making more advanced search tools available to basic searchers and helps expose relationships the user may not have thought of.

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Entry filed under: search interface. Tags: .

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