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I would like to design a search bar on my ecommerce website that would be the extension of the navigation.

A user can navigate to a category and then search localy to it. Or search to to the entire website and then navigate keeping this search criteria.

What would the best way to do it?

Amazon style search bar with a select box for category? Two search bars? One for global search and one for local search? Any other ideas?

EDIT : I would like to add that this website is an online grocery store and is designed for non IT people.

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How many possible categories are on the site? how many products? –  PatomaS Apr 5 at 8:38
We can't really answer what is 'best' without a much deeper understanding of your content, IA, users, etc. All things being equal, however, you can do worse than copying Amazon. –  DA01 May 7 at 1:58
Having seen and tested a number of solution which contain "global" and "local" searches, I can only say, Don't Do That! Usability is (amongst others) about reducing the burden of choice... –  virtualnobi May 7 at 8:04

1 Answer 1

Why would you want users to search for a category and then let them search for a specific item within this category?

If I search for "TV" I want to browse the TVs, compare them, so I can make an informed decision. If I want a 40inch LED TV I would change my search query accordingly or use filters to select 40inch and LED.

So I don't really see the use for a global search function and a local search function.

The Amazon search bar with a select box for category is useful if you want to search for (for example) the Percy Jackson The Lightning Thief book. Entering 'Percy Jackson and the lightning thief' will result in DVDs and books. Selecting 'books' as a category will refine the scope for the search.

If you have a long list of categories, too long to show in a select box, I can perhaps see the use of a second autocomplete input field that allows user to type in 'bo' so they can easily select the category 'books'.

This question reminds me of a daring concept I once suggested to my boss when I worked at an ecommerce company. I suggested to remove all navigation and just show people a search bar. Every search query they made would remain inside the search bar so people could easily refine on their search query or remove the previous search query.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Perhaps it can be of inspiration to you.

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Thank you for your answer! But don't you think this search it's a bit too geeky? I don't my mother would get how to use it for example. –  user2854544 Apr 5 at 18:56
That was it's major drawback yes, it was too different from "normal" site navigation on ecommerce sites, the change of the website would perhaps be too great and scare of existing customers. But it was an innovative idea, that's what I was hired for, but a bit too innovative to my boss's idea. It doesn't take away the fact this, in combination with normal navigation, could be of interest to you. –  Paul Apr 7 at 6:33
Other than say...Google. Are there sites that have successfully implemented search-only navigation? –  Aaron Benjamin Jun 5 at 21:02
@AaronBenjamin I don't know any and I wasn't able to test the idea of a more prominent search bar. I do know regular navigation links should remain. People will still look for it and it's a great way of showing what categories the store offers. –  Paul Jun 6 at 9:45

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