Advanced Search

published on July 12, 2011 in technical

Many of us have used advanced searches, where you may configure the search parameters. But in the majority of cases, there is no need for these complecated search functionalities. If still, then they should not be implemented as they are now.

1. My Experience

When I started writing this article, I thought it would be easy to bring up examples from my usage of advanced searches. But that is not so, because I realized that I am not using these at all. What I do sometimes, is narrow the search results of a simple search, if there is that kind of possibility.

2. Examples



  • on the top we have a little tooltip, which I find useless. If I do not know how to use this aervice, then this little zooltip would not do me any good, anyway.
  • there a lot of options the user may set. On one hand this is good, but on the other it is not. Our time is expensive, we do want is spent on understanding the labels.
  • and there is the younty setting option. No point in choosing this, because of the aucomplete. This should provide us with the cities in a very simple way, and if there would be sities with same name, then the county should be shown near it. As simple as that.
  • because of the combo boxes our job is hard, we have to click a lot more then we should. Checkboxes would have been better, those would be visible all the time.
  • there are a few icons on the form. I do not really what for. They are too small to be visible.

Not bad:

  • the autocomplete is good idea, but not like this.
  • the icons are a good idea too, but for heaven's sake, not as small as these…


  • huge form. I would never use it.
  • I might have to make up my search criteria. Not to clever, the user has no clue about full text searches. The order is useless, I doubt there is any basic user who cares about that, and wants to spend time on that.
  • I may search only one category. What is this huge form for? What is the point of it if I cannot choose the categories?
  • result list order. I do not want to bother with that. I want a list, with results.
  • the clickable tooltips open up in popups. Bad idea, should have used tooltips.

Not bad:

  • the form is beautiful, plenty of whitespace around.
  • the search may be saved, if you are logged in.
  • this huge form is optional, you may fill in only the keywords and shoot.


  • the for has mor then one submit button (or it looks like it). Not a good idea, some people might not know which to push.

Not bad:

  • good search options.
  • the basic view is quite usable.

3. What does Jacob say about this?

Jacob Nielsen says this in one of older articles:

Typical users are very poor at query reformulation: If they don't get good results on the first try, later search attempts rarely succeed. In fact, they often give up.

This tells us htat after using the search one time, the majority of users will not search again, There is a very important thing here: why would I bother implement a complicated advanced search, if the users are not going to use it? Wouldn't it be better to build a simple search, with intelligent result filtering possibilities? Yes, it would. That's what I do. I fight against advanced searches.
Same guy:

Search is the user's lifeline for mastering complex websites. The best designs offer a simple search box on the home page and play down advanced search and scoping.

This only states what I have already mentioned before: looking simple, intelligent, filtering after first search.

There is anther important thing in this quote: we do not need advanced searches, only where there a huge, complicated database to search in. No need for advanced searches where the data is small. Here simple, intuitive navigation does the trick.

4. What Do Youd Think?

I said what I think, What is your oppinion?