As some of you may know, I have a muti-faceted identity: I have an awesome day job; I’m a prolific blogger (really?), I’m writing a book; and I have a wonderful family. Of course, it’s easy to forget that all of these facets co-exist, and that not everything stays put within its original context.
Well, the other night, I was talking to my wife (who works in the softwear industry) about the chapter in my faceted search book that addresses user interface design challenges. Specifically, one of the concerns is how to most effectively implement a search box on a site that uses faceted search. There are, of course, a variety of decisions about default behavior and options for configuring alternative behavior. But I did make a strong admonition: including more than one search box on the site will confuse users.
The following day, she sent me an email:
Hey smarty pants.
Am I mistaken, or do I see TWO search boxes on The Noisy Channel?
Ouch. After I’d gotten over the shock that my wife not only pays attention to my rambling but also reads my blog, it took me a moment to realize what she meant–the PostRank widget has its own search box. And it actually has different search behavior than the search box that is built in to WordPress. For example, a search for don’t know using the WordPress-supplied search box returns over six pages of results, while entering these words into the widget (at least prior to this post) leads to “No posts found.” Moreover, while the result ranking from the WordPress search is strictly by recency, the result ranking on the widget is based on engagement metrics (see the recent discussion on Twitter).
Since I can’t afford to run a formal usability test, I offer the question to you, my readers: are the two search boxes confusing? Have you ever even noticed them before? And now that you’re aware of them, would you recommend I make any changes to the site? Please bear in mind that I probably cannot customize either widget–I’m just a lazy blogger and use the best parts I can get off the shelf.
Also, my wife has graciously offered a discount on her employer’s wares (wears?) to Noisy Channel readers. Go to the Carole Hochman site and use noisy as a promo code to get 40% off of any non-sale items. The discount expires on May 10th. For the calendar-impaired, that’s Mother’s Day.