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I'm building a site that allows users to search through an index of articles (all about the same general subject) by topic, time published, people involved, and other attributes. An advanced search function will include the ability to specify these piece-by-piece, perform "OR," "AND," and "NOT" filters, and some other extra functions.

By default, I think these functions should be hidden from view, but whether they are or not I am wondering if seeing multiple search boxes on a page will be confusing. Currently I have a basic search box in the navigation bar at the top of the page (with the text "Search Articles" to prevent confusion about its purpose). I think there's an advantage to being able to create a simple new search from any part of the site, and maintaining a consistent navigation bar seems like a good idea.

Is it bad practice to have redundant functional UI elements on a page? If there are two search boxes on a page (one in the navigation bar and one in the body if they are on the main "Search" page), is there a good way to indicate that they share functionality? If redundancy is likely to cause confusion, is it better to remove the search box from the navigation bar altogether for consistency, or is it permissible to hide it when there is a search box available in the body of the page?

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Do you have a screenshot or wireframe that you can share ? –  Mervin Johnsingh Feb 15 '13 at 20:23

1 Answer 1

To answer your questions one by one:

Is it bad practice to have redundant functional UI elements on a page? If there are two search boxes on a page (one in the navigation bar and one in the body if they are on the main "Search" page), is there a good way to indicate that they share functionality?

Maybe, It all depends on how your site is structured and how the different search boxes are delinated and marked out about what exactly do they search for. However since users are getting accustomed to scoping within search results from using a single search box, that would be a good way to go since that would clean up your design and provide a single point of focus for your users to initiate the search process. To quote this norman neilson article,

If you choose to use scoped search, I recommend following a few basic rules:

  • Set the default search scope to "all" (search the entire site).
  • When the user chooses a narrow search scope, explicitly state the scope at the top of the results page.
  • Offer one-click access to enlarge the scope. It is especially important to give users a highly visible way of searching the entire site if their scoped search fails to return any results.

A good example of this would how Amazon allows you to filter your search results by providing the feature to search across the site or scope your search in advance.

Another option would be to do it as plus+ does it where the search is across the site but there are filters available which allow the user to drill down (this would work if you have less filters)

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With regards to where to keep the search bar, I recommend looking at this question (Should the search box be on the left or the right side) for additional inputs as that would give you a good starting point for where to place your search bar to ensure that users know where to look for it and how it ties in with your site design and goal.

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