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In a view with a table that displays a number of data fields for employees (including name, country, start date, and email), we are looking to allow users to filter results by both name and country.

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We are currently considering querying both DB tables via the same search box. For example, if a user types "Ir" in the search box, they will be able to find employees with the name Irina as well as employees from the country Ireland, as both values contain the typed text.

We are wondering if this is the best design from a UX point of view, and what other designs you would recommend to allow users to find results by name and country through one or multiple UI elements.

2 Answers 2

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Your solution is one I have used in several places, searching across all of the desired fields with a single search; it can be very flexible and useful for users. A couple of thoughts - some may be more useful than others, take what works:

  1. You might consider highlighting the actual search term in the results list to make it very clear to the user WHERE their search matched - if they are looking for Irina and it returns a record with Ireland, being able to see where that match occurred can help them better parse the list of results.

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  1. As noted above, many results from an ambiguous or very short search term may not help the user much. Placeholder text in the search field (or some help text above) might help guide them to be as specific as they can with their terms, or you could consider enforcing a minimum number of characters - this is more useful with the predictive search mentioned above, start displaying results only after 2-3 characters have been entered can provide more useful results and possibly improve performance.

  2. Depending on the size of your databases and the way the system has been architected, you MIGHT be able to combine things and do a predictive filtering of the list: as the user types (after 3 characters have been entered) the list presented gets dynamically filtered down until only the results they want are in view (or revealed to not be part of the list). This is generally easier done with a list of records that is already local to the machine, but with small data records and a well designed system this might provide a very speedy and satisfying experience for the user.

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The approach you're considering is very effective and provides more results than a regular search, which is a good thing. However, there is a caveat: if you have a lot of results, it could become really messy.

Now, in your particular case, I don't think people who are looking for the name "Irina" will be interested in results about "Ireland". Furthermore, most users will use filters or sorting for the country because that is known data. However, they may not know the exact or complete name, which is why they need the search.

So I'd suggest a predictive search limited to names only (or maybe email rather than country)

See more info on predictive search here

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