advanced search

25 Apr 2005 - 2:54am
9 years ago
3 replies
468 reads
jstanford
2003

Hello,

I am currently working on a product for searching a specific type of
database that has a nice small set of commonly used search fields that lend
themselves well to a neat basic search and a very long set of infrequently
used (but necessary) search fields that I am relegating to the "advanced
search" page. Now, the question is how to design advanced search. This
database can have up 150 search fields and it's obviously a mess to have one
giant (even well organized) form.

Have others faced this problem? I have brainstormed a few ideas but wanted
to open it up to commentary.

Julie

_____________________________________
Julie Stanford
Principal, Sliced Bread Design | www.slicedbreaddesign.com
<http://www.slicedbreaddesign.com/>
650-799-7225

Comments

25 Apr 2005 - 3:50am
sajid saiyed
2005

Just want to ask if these 150 search fields are independent search
fields where user input is required? OR They are like dropdown
options? OR Multiple selects?

What I am trying to understand is, if atall there is a possibility for
you to "sub-categorise" the 150 fields. This way you can present the
user with a few options at first and then branch out as the user keeps
selecting... sort of a tree.

Just an idea based on my understanding of your problem. Once you can
clarify a bit more, maybe I could think of an alternative.

Hope that helps.

Sajid

On 4/25/05, Julie Stanford <julie at slicedbreaddesign.com> wrote:
> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> Hello,
>
> I am currently working on a product for searching a specific type of
> database that has a nice small set of commonly used search fields that lend
> themselves well to a neat basic search and a very long set of infrequently
> used (but necessary) search fields that I am relegating to the "advanced
> search" page. Now, the question is how to design advanced search. This
> database can have up 150 search fields and it's obviously a mess to have one
> giant (even well organized) form.
>
> Have others faced this problem? I have brainstormed a few ideas but wanted
> to open it up to commentary.
>
> Julie
>
> _____________________________________
> Julie Stanford
> Principal, Sliced Bread Design | www.slicedbreaddesign.com
> <http://www.slicedbreaddesign.com/>
> 650-799-7225
>
> _______________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Group!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixdg.org
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://discuss.ixdg.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixdg.org
> Home ....................... http://ixdg.org/
>

25 Apr 2005 - 10:04am
jstanford
2003

Hello,

In terms of sub-categorization, yes, I have sub-categorized the fields.
I realize that in the interest of time I should probably share with you the
top three solutions that I've tried which work "OK" but not great:

Solution 1:
Interface similar to custom search on match.com: Tree interfaace with
categories of fields that you can access by opening/closing the categories.

Solution 2:
Three column screen - Scrolling list box of fields in the left column of the
screen (fields in the box are displayed by category or by alphabet, your
choice). When you click a field, it appears in the middle column for you to
fill out. The right column contains a summary of all your selections so
far.
You can edit past selections by either clicking on them in the right column
(the associated field would display in the middle) or clicking it in the
left column. ASCII visual (showing Field 3 selected and 2 previous
selections made):

Field1 Field3___________ Field 1: Lorum Ipsum
Field2 Field 4: Dolar
*Field3
Field4
Field5

Solution 3:
Similar to solution 2 but only 2 columns. Instead of a middle editing
column, when the user selects a field in the left column, it gets added to
to the top of a list of fields in the second column that includes the
editing mechanism (instead of having one middle column for editing one field
at a time as in solution 2).

Field1 Field3__________
Field2
*Field3 Field1: _lorum ipsum__________v
Field4
Field5 Field4: _x_ Dolar
Field6
Field7

I usability tested Solution 1 and 2 and both tested fine (i.e. users were
able to complete their task), but they seemed clumsy. Half of the users
preferred solution 1 and half preferred solution 2. Solution 3 has not been
tested as yet.

Someone also mailed me the solution of not grouping everything into Advanced
Search and trying to solve the user's goals instead of overloading them with
fields. Normally, that would make sense but trust me when I tell you that in
this situation it is actually pretty useful to have one place where you can
access all the fields when needed in a simple manner.

Julie

_____________________________________
Julie Stanford
Principal, Sliced Bread Design | www.slicedbreaddesign.com
650-799-7225

> -----Original Message-----
> From: sajid saiyed [mailto:sajid.id at gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, April 25, 2005 1:51 AM
> To: Julie Stanford
> Cc: discuss at ixdg.org
> Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] advanced search
>
> Just want to ask if these 150 search fields are independent
> search fields where user input is required? OR They are like
> dropdown options? OR Multiple selects?
>
> What I am trying to understand is, if atall there is a
> possibility for you to "sub-categorise" the 150 fields. This
> way you can present the user with a few options at first and
> then branch out as the user keeps selecting... sort of a tree.
>
> Just an idea based on my understanding of your problem. Once
> you can clarify a bit more, maybe I could think of an alternative.
>
> Hope that helps.
>
> Sajid
>
> On 4/25/05, Julie Stanford <julie at slicedbreaddesign.com> wrote:
> > [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted
> > material.]
> >
> > Hello,
> >
> > I am currently working on a product for searching a
> specific type of
> > database that has a nice small set of commonly used search
> fields that
> > lend themselves well to a neat basic search and a very long set of
> > infrequently used (but necessary) search fields that I am
> relegating
> > to the "advanced search" page. Now, the question is how to design
> > advanced search. This database can have up 150 search
> fields and it's
> > obviously a mess to have one giant (even well organized) form.
> >
> > Have others faced this problem? I have brainstormed a few ideas but
> > wanted to open it up to commentary.
> >
> > Julie
> >
> > _____________________________________
> > Julie Stanford
> > Principal, Sliced Bread Design | www.slicedbreaddesign.com
> > <http://www.slicedbreaddesign.com/>
> > 650-799-7225
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Group!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixdg.org
> (Un)Subscription Options
> > ... http://discuss.ixdg.org/ Announcements List .........
> > http://subscribe-announce.ixdg.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixdg.org Home
> > ....................... http://ixdg.org/
> >
>

25 Apr 2005 - 11:45pm
sudhindra
2004

Hi Julie,
A couple of thoughts on the advanced search functionality you are trying to
incorporate. (I think your solution 2 and 3 are cool).......

1. In your search fields list, is it possible to group a few "most
important" fields, put it under a heading called Advanced search and give a
"more options" link at the bottom where you can display the fields in the
solutions you have described?. Coz 150 fields, whatever way they are
organized, are quite a large number for users to fill in....

2. If that doesnot fit in with your requirements, IMHO, the third option of
solutions I guess fits in the best (the left side search fields, of course,
categorized). You may also look at further reducing the apparent "heaviness"
and "perceived complexicity" of the page by displaying all the fields in
hypertext because use of "button graphics" unnecessarily adds to the burden
of a user. I feel simple hyperlinks doesnot give the feeling of heaviness to
the users visually when are they performing tasks....

Your thoughts???

Best Regards

Sudhindra

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