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I'm working on a a blog (which includes a mobile version), and I am not sure how useful a "search" button / box would be - especially on the mobile version. I can think of how it could be useful, but I can't find any real data on how many people actually use it.

So my question is whether or not it is essential to include search functionality in a blog?

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Anecdotal data: I do use blog searching. If a blog doesn't support it, I use Google to search the blog (if possible). –  Alex Feinman Apr 13 '11 at 16:48
    
I use it if I think I can remember where & what a post was about, but not when it may have been posted. That said, Google is pretty good at that too :) –  fourstar Apr 13 '11 at 17:31

4 Answers 4

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This depends on the size and quality of the blog. If it has many popular posts, then there's a higher chance that people will reach it looking for a specific post that they've seen there before, or that someone told them about. They will need search. Or, if the blog is influential enough for people to be concerned with whether they wrote about a specific topic, search may be used by those people. But I'd say that 90% of blogs have no need for a search function. I know that when people want to find something on my blog, they usually google for the name of the blog + search term. As far as I can remember, the only one who ever used the actual search function there is myself.

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Blogs are different to other websites in that the content is (usually) not priorited or catagorised in any order other than descending date of posting. The architecture of the site is such that by default you cannot set pages up into different sections, or prioritise different pages over others. Therefore in order to find a specific blog post you will either have to have a contents page (which is time consuming to produce and maintain) or provide a Search option to trawl the history of posts.

A search field on blog sites would be easier to implement than on, say, an ecommerce site, because all that is being searched for is the textual content within historical blog posts (and not things like order numbers, product codes, staff contact details and you will not be expected to return page results in a weighted order of priority).

As with most things it would depend on the content of the blog and how organised you structure the content. My own personal blog is purely for film reviews, so I have included a search function to allow people to see if I have ever reviewed or mentioned a specific film in the past. I have used the same feature when visiting other similar sites so from personal experience I have found it to be useful.

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2  
Most decent platforms support tags and/or categories, so I couldn't disagree more with your first paragraph. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Apr 13 '11 at 17:21
    
My point was more around the lack of structure and hierarchy, but yes you are right, tags do provide some useful categories, provided they are tagged appropriately. –  JonW Apr 13 '11 at 19:17
    
I'd also add another disagreement with your first paragraph. I think you meant to refer to posts throughout, but you've used post and page interchangeably and they are very different on a blog. Pages are meant to be primarily static content with no comments and are most often structured into hierarchies, sometimes complex, depending on how much content there is. –  jameswanless Apr 14 '11 at 6:09
    
@jameswanless yes you are correct, I do mean Posts instead of Pages. (That's what happens when you bash out an answer just before leaving the office I guess!) Yes, you can set up pages and hierarchies but the standard blog is just a stream of posts in descending order. If you set up proper hierarchies and pages then it becomes less of a blog and more of an alternative website, where a search may be less necessary. –  JonW Apr 14 '11 at 12:48

I mostly agree with Vitaly and Jon: It really depends on the content of your blog and how known it is.

Mobile: I think for mobile solutions it's always important to focus on essential functionality. So it might be smart to include a search box on the normal page but not on the mobile site. Or maybe to not waste any prime real estate just include a text link in the footer navigation ("search this blog").

Additional thought: Many blogs have really bad search solutions (one well known example would be gizmodo.com), So if you don't have the time or budget to do a good search, consider using Google for your on-site search (example: techcrunch.com)

Hope that helps, Phil

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May sound funny, but I often do that on my blog (on blogspot): I am writing smaller pieces on how to handle or work with the software I am writing and when users come and ask questions, I often know that I have written about it, but not exactly where. So I use the search function of blogspot to search for them.

In conjunction with mobile, I think search becomes more important because due to the (sometimes) limited bandwidth and limited screen estate, the user can not easily browse dozens of pages but requires more to directly go to the right spot.

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