I read that visitors will get frustrated if there is no search function. So I have a search function, but I'm not sure how obvious it should be.

I currently have this:

This is the icon for the search function:

When clicking on it it'll show the search form:

Is this obvious enough?

  • Sounds like a job for A/B testing. – Anindya Basu Oct 1 '14 at 16:17
  • Agreed, that this is something that is rather specific to your scenario. Google, for example, needs to have a very obvious search button; StackExchange's doesn't need to be so visible. – Evil Closet Monkey Oct 1 '14 at 18:27
  • Personally I don't like that the user is forced to click to show the search box. It's always better to minimize the inputs required by the user – simoneL Oct 2 '14 at 11:27
  • 1
    @simoneL "Personally I" ... "always better to" ... you just said it's your personal opinion...? – William Edwards Oct 2 '14 at 13:28
  • 1
    Sorry William David Edwards, you're right, is a nonsense statement. I would rephrase as "I think it's always better to minimize the inputs required by the user" – simoneL Oct 2 '14 at 14:20

Nielsen Norman have some thoughts in an article about The Magnifying-Glass Icon in Search Design:

They note that the icon on its own is harder to locate than a visible search field in the desktop environment:

The magnifying glass alone makes it much harder to locate the search. When used without an open-entry text field, the icon takes up less space. Visually, it’s less prominent and, therefore, less noticeable. We don’t recommend the icon-only pattern for desktop websites. Icon-only search makes sense on mobile devices, because there’s less screen space and fewer icons and labels in general. But on desktop, there’s more to look at, and thus, it’s easier for the stand-alone search icon to get lost in the crowd.

And recommend that the text entry field should be retained:

Above all, retain an open text-entry field next to the icon in the desktop version of a website. It’s also best to retain the text field on tablets. When a site is viewed on small screens (such as those of smartphones and smartwatches), the text box can be hidden until the user touches the magnifying-glass icon. And in each of these cases, there is no need to include a label within the search box.

| improve this answer | |

There are many things at play here and you might be wasting your time trying to solve an X/Y problem

Design perspective

If you are 100% certain that you need a search box in the navigation then from a design perspective I'd personally say that there is not enough contrast and only after a heavy "Make me think" session would I see that button.

Just look at the contrast for the search box on this site.

UX perspective

If the site is unintuitive enough that a user reaches for the search bar right away then that is a cry for help in other areas because my experience has been that most site's search features are so broken I stay away from it at all costs (this is not to say that filtering stuff doesn't work). Even on http://www.stackoverflow.com I never use the search bar but rather use Google to Google the site =) I often find myself filtering with the tags on the right-side of https://stackoverflow.com/questions

I am not sure about your entire navigation but if there are only 5-6 pages of content then I highly doubt you will benefit from even a superb search functionality.

Maybe one of the pages, like the blog, has a bunch of stuff that the user might want to sift through. I would put a prominent search box right on that page only or maybe some sort of filter system where they can select a date range and some categories.

http://www.amazon.com/ fills their page with potential items you might want to buy but if that fails then the search bar is quite prominent.

| improve this answer | |

I have seen many recent examples where only a search button is surfaced, which then expands to include a search box (as you have suggested). I don't think this is a bad thing, as suggested it depends on context however I might look at right aligning the button in the navigation and expanding the search on the same row instead of taking up more room.

That being said when such a button is used a user they have probably intentionally decided to use search. Meaning that what is most important to them is quickly finding the search box and performing the search. As long as it is nearby and allows them to search immediately.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.