What do you think? What is better option for big social platform?

  1. Simple searching and more specific filtering is enough.
  2. Is it necessary to have all options: simple searching + filtering and advanced searching.

I'm interested in end user perspective.

  • Can you be more specific as to what the search is for, and what you mean by "big social platform"? – Fresheyeball Oct 8 '12 at 16:31

No, don't use advanced search on social networks. Not even big ones. The only place where advanced search make sense are on research databases querying for articles. Jakob Nielsen has the following to say on advanced search:

In our recent search study, the mean query length was 2.0 words. Other studies also show a preponderance of simple searches. Most users cannot use advanced search or Boolean query syntax. This has two implications for search design:

  • Emphasize your search engine's ability to handle single-word queries and very short multi-word queries and still produce high-quality results.

  • Do not offer advanced search from the home page. Advanced search leads users into trouble, as they invariably use it wrong. When it makes sense, offer advanced search as an option users can link to from the search results page: "Didn't find what you were looking for? Try advanced search."


As an end user of Facebook for example, I am extremely annoyed by the fact that I cannot do an advanced search and practically there are almost no filters at all (and those that do exist, they are poorly executed). And like you said - if it's a big social platform, then there definitely needs to be an advanced search with smart filters. But, for the sake of UX, simple search needs to stand out for users who just want to do a quick search, and advanced search should be a smaller link, or maybe it should appear along with filters after a user does a simple search.


I think your question requires more context: who are your users, and what kinds of information do you expect them to be looking for? Is this expectation based on pilot testing or other user-centered analysis, or is it something the system designers anticipate without having specific evidence one way or the other?

While it's common wisdom that people don't use long queries, there are many situations where that isn't the case. You need to define some use cases, scenarios, personas, or whatever that will indicate the need for advanced search. If you have a query log from a running system, look for sequences of queries from the same person: chances are these indicate that at least some people have information needs that cannot be articulated in a couple of terms.

Once you have some evidence of the kinds of complex information needs (if any) people have, you can better articulate your original question.

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