July 11, 2005, 12:44 pm
Just Like Google, Right? Right.
According to Jakob Nielsen, Internet users have developed pretty firm ideas about what “Search” is and how it works:
“In our experience, when users see a fat ‘Search’ button, they’re likely to frantically look for ‘the box where I type my words.’ The mental model is so strong that the label ‘Search’ equals keyword searching, not other types of search.”
What this means is that alternate search methodologies (parametric searches, for example) need to be presented within a strong supporting context, including, perhaps, the complete avoidance of the word “Search.”
An earlier article by Nielsen on search usability reinforces his current findings (and is worth reading in full for other guidelines):
“Users often move fast and furiously when they’re looking for search. As we’ve seen in recent studies, they typically scan the home page looking for ‘the little box where I can type’.”