I wanted to test the waters and see how other fellow usability people felt about Google's search bar in all of their sub sites. For instance if you are on google search, on google drive, or in Gmail the search bars position stays consistent in all of these pages however I don't feel that it is clear what the search bar is doing(searching the web, your email, or the drive).

Do you think it is clear to the user that you are searching inside those parts of the websites vs doing a google search?

  • 4
    I think it's fairly clear, you've explicitly entered a specific context of the Google Services and so you know what you're dealing with. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 15:22

2 Answers 2


I agree with Rudi Visser. However a simple solution would be to change the default text from "Google search bar" to something like "Search within site" makes it quite obvious where a user is searching.


One option that I happened to use, not specifically as a solution to this problem, is to the the critieria input's placeholder attribute to be something like "Search customers", "Search locations" etc. It doesn't add to the UI real estate but gives added context.

  • Does that mean that you had found that your users were having difficulty distinguishing between searches in different parts of your site? Did the added word in the label have any impact that you measured? Please provide some more context. Commented May 6, 2013 at 15:50
  • This is in an app that I haven't even deployed yet so I can't speak to whether it provided any value. I just offered as an alternate way to show context of what they are searching. And in fact, Google calendar does use this idea, though not within Google mail which is weird since multiple entity types (mail, contacts) can be searched within it (would think the context would be more useful there).
    – Rich
    Commented May 6, 2013 at 22:03

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