in Misc

Is This Good Usability?

While I was looking for some information on a Yahoo! Groups, I noticed three search boxes on a single page :

As you can see, one is for universal web search, one is for searching other groups, and one is for searching your group. I really think this design is bad, and I will tell you why:

1. Don’t put 3 search boxes in the same place.

First of all, you don’t do that. It is stupid.

When a user comes to your site (especially a group site), he wants to receive the desired information fast. He will always be in a “hurry” mode, so you must think ahead. Let’s take the present example: If I’m here and I want to search for something, it’s logical that I’m looking for information that is (or it is supposed to be) here. I do not want to look on the web or in another group. I am here, I have all my attention here.

2. The Search boxes priority

If you have to put 3 search boxes (which is stupid) in the same place, at least pay attention to the importance of each one. Take a look at our example. If you need to search something in this group, what search box will you instinctively use? The first one, with the big yellow button, right? Well, that is what I thought. It is the biggest, it is the first one, and it has the most prominent button. It is like clicking on an error button: the vast majority does not read the message, they just push the button.

3. The search boxes similarities

The last two are practically the same. Sure, you can say that the second one has a short text, which tells you that you will search for other groups, but that is useless, and I will tell you why. Almost all the search boxes have a text that says something like “type and press enter”, “search on this site”, “enter the keyword and press go”, and so on. This text is there to inform the user on how to perform a search.

The problem is that nobody reads it. It is a search box goddamn…you write and press the button, you do not need special skills for that. So, let’s return to our problem. Will you read that text or you will just start to write in it? I think you will not read it.

The solution?

One extremely simple solution is using radio buttons. If you need to implement more search options, this method is far more better than multiple boxes with multiple buttons. This is how I would do it:


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.