More on Search
19th June 2003
Tim Bray’s series on full-text search has got to the meaty bit: how search engines actually work, including an overview of the kind of data structures they use (presented in XML format for readability). The basics are a lot simpler than you might think. Tim has also posted some thoughts on how people actually use search, of which the most interesting point is that advanced search is hardly ever touched.
Meanwhile, Julie Albertson has a four part series that concentrates on the design of the interface for a search tool (aimed principally at online news sites):
My personal favourite approach to search design is the one advocated by Steve Krug in his excellent book on web usability “Don’t Make Me Think!”: Have a text field and a button. If the overall thing is labelled “Search” then the button should say “Go”, otherwise the button should say “Search”. Any additional wording will just slow people down. I use the label “Search Site” on this site partly to make it even clearer what will be searched but mainly because the slightly longer label provides more visual balance within the context of my navigation bar.
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