I have a site that lists entries across multiple different categories.

As an example, think of something like AirBnB which has Homes, Experiences & Restuarants, with homes being the main searched for category.

Would it be best to have a ‘universal’ search that will search across all three categories and present the results grouped by category.

Or should the search change, so if you go to the Homes section, the search only searches Homes.

Does that make sense?

1 Answer 1


Provide universal search from generic pages (like the homepage) and specific search from specific sections

You're catering to two the two main types of users in this regard - those who immediately look for and use the search bar (when the first land on a site) and those who use the navigation first, and only search from deeper levels of the site when they can't navigate to their destination.

Search results on the generic pages can be categorized as you have suggested, and those results on specific pages can be specific to that content.

A searcher from a generic page might not want to see keyword-relevant results from irrelevant categories, but because of the high level of the search, this shouldn't be a problem providing the result categories are clearly distinguished.

A search from a specific page expects to see only results relevant to that category.

You can further strengthen this interaction by having generic language (on labels and prompt/placeholder text) for generic search, and specific language (e.g. 'Search houses')

  • This makes sense. I've only really got a homepage as a generic page that someone is likely to search from. The search page is the most visited, so a universal search from there might be nice. The only thing to consider is that out of the few different categories I have, one of the them far outweighs the others in importance and due to SEO, is probably the reason the user is at the site. So it might be relatively safe to say that they'd only want to search that category from the homepage.
    – shorn
    Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 9:02

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