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Suppose the user is presented with a search functionality and searches for Jose. For the moment, the search query is returning all the Jose but it also returns Joseph becasue Jose is included in the word Joseph.

What's the best practice in terms of UX for search results in that case? Should searching for Jose only return Jose or also include Joseph?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

results should also include Jose, joseph, sanjose**. many times we dont remember full name or correct name, search should be able to provide all options. you can always have filters to narrow your results.

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What about searching for numbers/IDs, should that show all options at all times? –  Alex Aug 26 '13 at 7:29
    
yes, if you want to search 46785 ID, you should be able to find it by typing 467. –  Awesh Aug 26 '13 at 7:32
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yeah but that does not mean all options are showed all the time. I recall seeing searches like this: search for "554". Get "main hits" on ID:554 get sub-hits on ID:6554 and ID:7554. Sometimes there aren't sub-hits so only exact matches show. –  Alex Aug 26 '13 at 7:35
    
nice observation, again it depends on the requirements, in one of my project (e-commerce) website, we show exact match, as those are unique IDs. and in another project where IDs are part of the product name, we display exact mach at the top and other results below. –  Awesh Aug 26 '13 at 7:41
    
in the example of ID 46785, what would happen if all IDs 46700 - 46799 were present in the DB ? –  Toni Leigh Aug 27 '13 at 19:48

Remember the first page of results is critical, so your rules must weight closer matches to the actual term(s) more highly than looser matches. This rule applies more when larger result sets are found or expected, but be wary of returning too many results for a search.

I would use the following rules:

  • if a search term directly matches a product id (or other DB id) i would list this single result first

  • then search for the entire phrase, or results that contain all the terms provided

  • then I would search for the fragmented set of terms and display those results next, including part of a word that matched a term

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I think "Jose" should NOT return all names that begin with the string "jose." I could see providing a means of creating a wildcard (e.g. *, !, etc), but automatically doing it will create a situation where users will get a list of results that will be filled with warrantless results. To use a more extreme example, imagine a user who is searching for Jane Li and decides to search on last name. Her list would get results for: Li, Ling, Lister, Littel, Little, Lin, Lise...

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This answer is opinion-based with no UX best practice back up for the reasoning. –  norabora Sep 5 '13 at 19:25
    
@norabora I'm curious to know what the UX best practice is for this issue. I think my example clearly illustrates the evidence for there being legitimate concern that automatic wildcarding will adversely affect the precision of the users ability to search. I think it is fair to say that filling a result set with unrequested wildcard entries is a bad user experience. –  Rath_Er Sep 6 '13 at 22:29

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