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I'm currently working on 2 different websites: an events and a news websites. On both sites, a search interface with filter options is provided.

Initially, the search engine was build to return an error message if the user's query was empty. Since the search engine is looking for individual items in database and not specific content within the site, I'm thinking that returning all results (i.e. all news/events in my contexts) could be an interesting functionality. The user would then have the possibility to filter down his search. This is how the search works on the Financial Times.

What are your thoughts on this matter?

Thanks :)

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Moving to more human-like computer system, you could give to the system some human features:

  • Politeness -- don't make use blame himself of his error (this effect is described by D.Norman in The Design of Everyday Things). Just point it gently.
  • Forgiveness -- both computers and humans make errors. Forgive the user and he will forgive the system's error once.
  • Helpfulness -- provide some helpful information instead of error message.
  • Memory -- provide some information which is relevant to previous user search, i.e. based on his interest.
  • Moderation -- don't provide all news, too much is not good. And old events and news are not best choice, too.
  • Fun -- deliver some surprise and fun.
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