I am trying to define how a website search should be designers for a website that has products, articles, recipes and other general content pages.

The answer seems obvious, have a faceted result page for each content type. However, this seems too simple.

What questions should I ask to inform the solution further? or... how should I approach search design in general?


  • Who are you asking? Do you mean you're going to users to discover what tasks they're trying to accomplish on your site? – Ken Mohnkern Sep 13 '16 at 12:46
  • If you're going to attempt to surface all of these content types via a single search box, you need to think carefully about the possible use-cases. You don't want a search for "cup" to return every recipe (for example). Recipe search is typically very specialized, and a universal search box will generate a lot of noise results unless you consider only, say, the recipe title and 1-3 main ingredients. – Peter Dixon-Moses Sep 22 '16 at 2:27

There are lots of different search patterns, where each suites a particular goal. Peter Morville & Jeffery Callender wrote a great book about them called Search Patterns - Design for Discovery http://searchpatterns.org

The design of search is a tricky business. Each project is unique.

For starters, we must select research methods that fit the context. Unobtrusive field observation is rarely practical, since search is generally ad hoc. But we can surely draw upon other ethnographic techniques, including interviews, questionnaires, and diary study.

You started by creating a design, i.e. The answer seems obvious, have a faceted result page for each content type, but surely you start by firstly understanding your users and discovering what they want to find.

So everything begins by understanding the find-ability goals of the user. I cannot tell you the questions you might need to ask because I don't know your context, but I imagine these might start you off:

  • Are they looking for something specific?
  • Are they browsing to find something suitable?
  • Do they even know what they are looking for?

Search is a multidisciplinary collaboration of design, engineering, marketing and management.

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