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I know this may sound very generic question, but I am forced to post this to understand different patterns of search. I am working on a content oriented site which contains various types articles/videos from different topics. The width of content is very broad which is spread across 5 different topics which are holding the entire taxonomy. Each article is tagged with keywords and the user can click the tags.

I have already considered using adaptable personalization technique to handle overload of content , (i.e) giving the right content at the right time by showing content of only subscribed topics. Now I want to provide a search feature & popular tags also for every topic. What would be best search design pattern for this kind of scenario. (Note; this is a responsive website).

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The best reference I know of search patterns is Peter Morvilles and Jeffery Callenders book Search Patterns:

Search is among the most disruptive innovations of our time. It influences what we buy and where we go. It shapes how we learn and what we believe. This provocative and inspiring book explores design patterns that apply across the categories of web, e-commerce, enterprise, desktop, mobile, social, and real time search and discovery. Using colorful illustrations and examples, the authors bring modern information retrieval to life, covering such diverse topics as relevance ranking, faceted navigation, multi-touch, and mixed reality. Search Patterns challenges us to invent the future of discovery while serving as a practical guide to help us make search applications better today.

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It covers everything from search result pages design to best bets and user behaviour. Best book I've read on the topic.

I think you should start there...


EDIT

To answer your particular question better, I think Microsoft have made a very good job filtering search results in SharePoint (as an example). You could filter by a numerous of different things which would be easely transferrable to your question tags and/or features. Take a look at the following image and see if there is something useful?!

SharePoint Search result page

Look specifically at the left column where the filters are... filter by type, date, product, company or concept.

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As the OP really asked for search patterns and not book recommendations, could you give some more examples of what particularly good approaches are featured in this book that relate to the OPs setup? –  kontur Dec 4 '12 at 7:52
    
@kontur I will, in a few hours. However the question is very genereic and doesn't have a "right" answer. Still I'll try to do my very best. Stay tuned! –  Benny Skogberg MCSA Dec 4 '12 at 7:56
1  
Great! Nothing wrong with suggesting a good book, just consider what is the real worth to users reading this topic to have nothing but the book name to go on :) –  kontur Dec 4 '12 at 8:17

You could leave the basic search functionality unchanged and embed a limited amount of featured and popular search results as an incentive to use the other search type. The end of the embeded results show a button to display "more results from featured/popular tags".

Taking into account that you mentioned your website to be responsive, you could offer users with more screen space a couple of featured search hits + button , possibly aside of the main content or preceeding the normal search results (left in the mockup). For users with less space, just show buttons to alternatively search from featured tags (right side in the mockup).

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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If I were designing my search results page to be responsive I would think "Mobile First". Constraining yourself to mobile will force you to make choices about your faceted navigation system. What options do users really need? What can you remove while retaining a "good" user experience?

A few other questions:

  • Will users have the ability to refine their results by topic (facet) and related keywords (value)?
  • Who tags articles in the CMS? Is there a controlled vocabulary?
  • What determines a "popular" tag?
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