Context: I’m designing a classic search engine for academics so they can find download paper published by their peers.
Situation: When users are presented with a numbered list of results, sorted by relevance and starting with the most relevant result, the next step it to process the result, most likely by choosing one or more items for further investigation.
In my usability tests, the vast majority of participants did not make use of the facet on their left to refine their searches. They believe that search is fast and easy enough, providing immediate access to information and giving them what they want.
My hypothesis if it’s not the most popular function, should it be placed in the less optimum areas of the screen, life to the right? But using not using the tried-and-true refine/facted on the left refine/faceted search will hassle the users of having to relearn new system.