I am creating a tool where the user can create their own client groups.

I will present them with a list of their clients and they can complete a search to find family members, and then use checkboxes to group them together for submission. Given that family members may have different surnames or addresses I wanted to give multiple search boxes so the user could search: Bob, Smith and 123 East Street, with the results being all bobs, all smiths and all clients at 123 East Street.

example: I want to group a family together.

In this case I want to find everyone who matches: Bob, Smith or 123 East Street.

  • Bob Smith 87 Elm Street (found you)
  • Jane Smith 123 West street (found you)
  • Tanner Tate 123 East Street (phew, found you)
  • Tina Tate-Smith 123 East Street (found you)
  • Mike Vick 123 East Street (found you)
  • Bob Zeppoli 99 Rouge Street (don't need you)

The other option would be to have the user search for bob, check all the applicable boxes, and then complete a new search for Smith and so on. This seems like extra work and not the best experience.


In this example I search for bob:

  • Bob Smith 87 Elm Street (found you)

Then smith:

  • Jane Smith 123 West street (found you)
  • Tanner Tate-Smith 123 East Street (found you)

then 123 East Street:

  • Tanner Tate 123 East Street (phew, found you)
  • Mike Vick 123 East Street (found you)

Is there another option I am not thinking about or can the multi-search work for my purposes? I would put it in front of a user but I cannot find existing code to through into my prototype.

  • Check out faceted search. I'd also recommend doing some user research to determine what your users would actually intend to search for...do they want a broad-strokes list like you mentioned, or are they going to be searching for a particular person? (Or both?) – Nate Green Nov 14 '16 at 21:46
  • 1
    Faceted refers to drilling down, but I want to an 'OR' approach. Show them all the users that match their family criteria, and they can pick the ones that apply. I don't know the family relationships, and I only have surname and address to assist them. – Ben Nov 14 '16 at 22:07
  • Gotcha. I don't think I could answer that very well, but it seems like real-life data (esp. if there's a high volume) may make it difficult to find what you need within the search results. If there isn't too much volume or too many facets, maybe just show them the whole list and let them filter it down if they need to. (In my mind "OR" makes sense when filtering, but not when searching. Not sure if I'm alone in that or not.) – Nate Green Nov 14 '16 at 22:14
  • Had a couple ux sessions with end users, and the search is still an issue. When searching for a client the user will not know their address, so as a primary search the address is less valuable. After completing a search for "bob" the user can see his address, and complete another search but nobody did this. --- I need to think of another solution to let the user search for all their clients (presumably by name/surname) and then find all possible other clients who may be linked (same surname or address). Any ideas or should this be another question? – Ben Nov 23 '16 at 13:07

Approach 1. You can use single search form with chips

Search with chips

This way you can add multiple queries to the same search. After making a couple of queries the results will list all possible clients and then selecting the family group would be available.

However, there could be a ambiguity problem for the user not knowing whether he has queried a name or street because most of the streets are namen upon a person. To solve that, you can use a second approach:

Approach 2. Use 2 search forms.

You could use two search forms one for names and one for streets. This way the problem with the ambiguity should be solved. Again chips should be used to list the queries made by the user.

Use autocompletion for the search, if possible.

Here is an example of autocomplete functionality. This would help for the faster selection of queries.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    I like the idea of this one. I will give it some more research. – Ben Nov 15 '16 at 12:38

Staying away from diffcult to comprehend Boolean searches, you might want to look into new kinds of search implementations, like Slack.

enter image description here

Just a basic search field, with extra options inside. But you still need to type three times, but it works really fast and smoothly.

"from: 123" > select and enter "from: Bob" > select and enter "from: Smith" > select and enter

But of course this needs some extra work on implementing it.

| improve this answer | |
  • Right now my prototype is using the datatables global search (filter), and it works for my purposes except the user has the search multiple times. I think this search is better suited for an email database, where you are trying to pull a specific date or sender. – Ben Nov 15 '16 at 12:43
  • Well, you could use/add as pre-filters as you'd like. – citizen81 Nov 15 '16 at 15:11
  • Like address: for example – citizen81 Nov 15 '16 at 15:11

As you are having different searches I would keep it in different search fields and results. Adding "or" in the same search can create confusion.

You can display different searches in the same page so the user can see all the results he is getting. Results which conincide in between searches should be displayed in all of them and highlighted somehow (maybe on hover) so the user can understand the result appears several times. At the same time when selecting a repeated element it should be automatically selected in all the results.

enter image description here

Let me know if I didn't get your question correctly.

| improve this answer | |
  • Having the results display in different areas is not practical, and would not help the user group them all together. – Ben Nov 15 '16 at 12:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.