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Is it redundant to display the search bar on Search Result or Error 404 page again when the website already has it on the sidebar/side navigation or on header?

I've always felt it's kind of redundant since user can easily scroll the page to use the search bar again, but I often see various websites keep employing this. I thought that the search bar is displayed again to prevent the hassle to scroll the page, but I'm still not sure if that's really the reason (especially when it's still on same screen).

Here are some few examples to illustrate:

screnshot

screnshot

screnshot

Sorry for the long question title!

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

My rule of thumb: If redundancy makes things easier and doesn't confuse the user, it's fine. If it confuses the issue, then it's best to leave alone.

In this specific case, a search bar atop a search results page tends to be a web standard and can keep the user focused in the area of the page where the results are, even as they modify the search. Verdict: I think that redundancy is fine.

On 404 pages, I think prominently featuring a search bar is nice, but not necessary. Since it's so close (in the third png), I would personally leave it out, but if it were more separate (like in some of the other examples), I'd leave it in. A user may experience a 404 from an exterior link and the less they have to think about finding their content, the less likely they are to give up from frustration and find the content elsehwere.

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Hmm... you've got a point on the 404 from exterior link... –  deathlock Sep 25 '12 at 23:22
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If the user's attention is on the body of the page, it makes sense to offer "next step" options where the person is looking, rather than having to scan the entire page to find the search box or other pertinent control. This is particularly useful if the user is not familiar with the web page.

Perhaps you can instrument the system to see which control (embedded in the 404 page or the standard one in the header) is used more frequently. Might be useful to publish those results for others to draw on in the future.

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The search bar in a header will be used for navigation to the search page.

It is a common practice to place search bar on the search page. The user not supposed to scan the page and use header or other type of navigation when they do not need to navigate away from the page

You would want to place search bar to 404 page in order to avoid clicking on “back” button. If you can add header it would be even better. In this case your client will be able to navigate inside your web site and find your content without losing an interest to your site.

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