I'm designing a site for students and teachers, which is a set of learning materials on a particular topic. There are three types of content:

  • Content only for students
  • Content only for teachers
  • General content for everyone

The difference is that student-only content is not relevant to teachers and written in a different tone of voice. The teacher and student content is more guide content. The general content is written for both audiences - e.g. syllabus quick reference. Users do not have to sign in before viewing any content. It will be open to the public (although we might bring in user accounts at a later point).

What are the best options for providing a site search facility that works for everyone?

  • e.g. One search box in the primary nav. When the search term is submitted, results are split into three categories
  • e.g. No search in the primary nav, but a search in the teacher area, a search in the student area, and no ability to search the more general content (doesn't seem a good solution)
  • e.g. A search in the primary nav with a dropdown or radio button that lets you choose between student content, teacher content, or both

Any examples that support your thoughts would also be great. Thanks.

  • 2
    In particular, teachers should always be able to access the "student" content in a teacxhing environment, even once you implement user accounts. You might just want a checkbox "include student resources" or similar.
    – Chris H
    Dec 21, 2015 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


For your case I think the best approach would be a filtered search. By default the results shown would be general content which is for everyone. checkboxes can be used for the student and teacher filters but they wouldn't be compulsory and unchecked by default.

Search _________________________

[] I'm a student [] I'm a Teacher

Search >>

Another option would be showing your search results in groups


An alternative to Ameen's answer is to use a "Tabbed Search". A few decent examples is from Zoopla:

Different audiences being [For Sale / To Rent / House Prices & Values] [enter image description here]1

Now that we have two potential solutions to your problem, to consider which to use, I would think about the amount of filter options that you need to have. If you use "I'm a student / I'm a teacher" as the filter option then you cannot use filters that are SPECIFIC to one group whereas you can do this with the "Tabbed Search".

On the contrary, if your users are going to use the Search in the broadest sense and are unlikely to use additional filters then it would be much easier to use the check box option!

Good luck!

Edit: Found an article concerning library search boxes which is relevant and has more context on the different types of search boxes.

  • No additional filters needed in my case. Very helpful info. Dec 21, 2015 at 23:26

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