I'm working on an application where tags are structures hierarchically - so while the list of tags is organized as a tree (just like categories), the items can appear under several such tags.

The users should be able to search using the tags - what's the best way to do that? One of the challenges I could think of is that since an item can have several tags, users may want to use and/or search to locate items which have both tags or items which have either one. I also don't want this to look like a query builder or a tag cloud (tag popularity is irrelevant).

Do you know of any good examples?

2 Answers 2


I love the way Delicious handles this

enter image description here

this is an 'AND' only search however. So if you want to search for 'tag1 AND tag2' OR 'tag3 AND tag4 AND tag5', you just search twice :)

I don't remember seeing a tag search that you want, but this is how I would take a crack at it,

enter image description here

I'm assuming your user base is fairly tech-savvy here. Some search engines have checkboxes to filter results (images,videos, etc.), we use it in a similar way.

  • I like this approach. How would you present the results - in a flat list or within a hierarchy? if the latter approach is used, then one item can be found under more than one tag/category - so should it be presented several times or just once?
    – Olgaarsh
    Aug 25, 2011 at 10:51
  • I would use a flat list, I think thats how a user expects to see search results. If an item is found in multiple tags then just give it a higher ranking in the results. Showing it several times is redundant information, it may also create an impression that something broke and stuff is repeating.
    – Kashyap
    Aug 25, 2011 at 16:11

Yeah, as a user, I prefer having the AND, OR and NOT options. The NOT option is not covered in this Delicious solution. Why don't you add an optional field for words the user DON'T WANT in the result? Gmail search tool does that.

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