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This is a pretty basic question I guess, but I have an advanced seach page split into around 7 catagories with 36 different fields. Each field has a modifier attached to it allowing the fields results to be included or excluded from the results.

Anyway it was suggested that it might be beneficial to have a summary of the search query on top. Any thoughts or suggestions?

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it depends on your design, but for this amount of categorization and filtering, the answer is a resounding yes. Just think of this: you use different fields for each of your categories, press the search button and (hopefully) you'll get some results. Now, if you don't add a "summary", how will the user know what he/she searched for, which filters were applied and how to narrow the search if needed?

Also, I don't know if you have some specific ideas for summary, what I mean for summary is something like the following (don't mind the language)

enter image description here

Finally, in order to add something to the structure of your complex search, try reading about Faceted Search Techniques. Some pages of interest:

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A common solution for this is to include a "breadbox" which includes the values from each facet in your advanced search query as an easier to scan summary of the query. Often the values have an "x" next to them to allow for quickly removing them and resetting that facet.

I would suggest looking into something like a popular searches list as well with preset queries already built for users. It sounds like an intimidating form. Anything you can do to pick good defaults and make them available is going to increase success rates for the users.

  • Do you have an example you could direct me to? Are you sure it is called a breadbox, I dont see anything on that topic? – WhyEnBe Jun 11 '15 at 13:43

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