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The project I am working with is a desktop application linked to a database system. This application is used to search for a record and either update information or utilise some of the information within a letter template to print.

There are three types of users, all using the same information and all need to search for a record to create or change anything.

My question is: Which path would be more user friendly and effective, being confronted with a search field as soon as you login so you can gain that record you need, or login and then define what you need by clicking a couple of options and then searching within that defined option. I.e find what you need then define what you need it for, or define what you need and then find what you need for it?

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Is there not an option to display the search field, and then in a less prominent position, display the options to define what's needed if a search isn't appropriate?

That way, the search is the most visible option, as that sounds like what users are going to do the most, but you still keep your advanced options there to make them easy to find.

  • A possibility could well be an optional search bar on the interface, available if needed. Allows the user to create a custom view almost and feel more comfortable as opposed to have one set path. Thanks – Marty Dunlop Feb 3 '14 at 21:24
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What if the user wants to print a record, looks it up, but finds out some of the information needs updating. In that case having to decide what you want to do before finding the record will cause a problem for the user.

Therefor, to my opinion, it would be advisable to go for the search field so users can find the right records after which they can decide what they want to do with it.

  • Very valid point. Many users I know search for google in the URL bar to then search. I had assumed that the logical process was search then define. – Marty Dunlop Feb 3 '14 at 21:21
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There are three types of users

This leads me to think that you should create some personas, and understand the different needs for these three kinds of users.

I'm not quite sure I understood your question, you should provide an example, but what seems is that you are asking whether you should implement browsing or searching as the first navigation option.

If that's the case, you should provide both ways, since reports show that at least half the users predominantly use search.

  • Personas have been created and we're in the midst of user surveying, just trying to refine the wireframes as best I can at this point. Your assumption is correct, it's the choice between browse the info or search for an exact record first. Thanks for your input, the report fact there helps. – Marty Dunlop Feb 3 '14 at 21:09

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