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On every Stack Exchange site, when somebody clicks on a user link, the search box is automatically filled with a string that would allow to search posts written by that user.

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In which cases does automatically filling the search field make sense? Should I just consider if searching is a common operation, or are there other considerations to make?

I was thinking to implement such functionality on a Drupal site, for the user profile pages, or the node pages. In the first case, the search box would be pre filled with a search term that allows searching for nodes (content) written by that user; in the second case, the search box would be filled with a search term that allows searching for similar nodes.

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1 Answer 1

Automatic fill in of search boxes makes sense when the user have made a selection on a web site. This could be a specific user, a group of users or some other refined part of content. As an example there are 5000+ questions on UX.SE. There are too many questions to browse through, and the user might want to find a specific topic, like website-design.

It the user hits the tag , it makes perfect sense to add this tag to the search query within the search box – and the user narrows the search by 90 % to 544 questions.

search result from tag click

Still too many, but the user can now further refine the search by adding extra search terms, such as the example below we add “windows” and find 43 questions tagged having the word windows in the content (or as another tag).

search result refined by keyword windows

The benefit is that the user intuitively knows that this is the proper way to search for content, and can elaborate further on the next search.

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+1 agreed. The point about aiding refinement of populated filter parameters were the same as I was thinking. –  AndroidHustle Oct 1 '12 at 11:49
    
@AndroidHustle Thanx! It's especially important on flat or tags organized web sites, such as *.SE sites. Users need to find a way to filter content, and what better way than search is there to do it? :-) –  Benny Skogberg Oct 1 '12 at 11:52
    
Yes, definitely. But it can be applied to all kinds of searches. Either to easily refine the populated filter, tag + search param, or broaden the populated filter, eg. city + street + street number - street number = city + street. It makes it so much quicker for users to setup filter values. –  AndroidHustle Oct 1 '12 at 13:10
    
Just realized that last comment probably doesn't make much sense when reading it, it made sense in my head, and I'm sticking to it! =D –  AndroidHustle Oct 1 '12 at 13:12
    
@AndroidHustle It makes sense, don't worry :-) –  Benny Skogberg Oct 1 '12 at 13:14

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