Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Search Field Default Dumbness

Ok, lots of sites used to use default text in search fields (and other form fields) to describe what you might put in there. Some still do, including eBay, but they usually have the sense not to act on the text if you actually click the submit button. This one doesn't seem to have worked out that PRODUCT SEARCH is just the text that was already in the field. It seems less and less common to use the default text in this way, and a bad idea unless space is a real premium and there's a good reason to have to tell users what's expected of them (clue: a standard product search field isn't a really good reason).

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Blogger Creative Cog said...

Unfortunately not only was space a real premium in this case, but time was too. After 6 weeks of building a first run structure, the site was canned !!! I would agree with your thoughts on searches, but in this case what you can see was a v.1 of a project and the key was to develop a basic text search that could be further developed - once the exact range/scope of products was assessed.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Richard Sheppard said...

Robert, the whole team at emart got stuffed on this by the founder, and it really pisses me off when I come to your blog and see an emart screenshot. We'd have got it right if we could have made more money with it.

We had 80 suppliers on board and had done a huge amount of work to get a million products available on line within seven months time. We'd have been more than happy to have sorted out the finer points such as the search feature you've slagged off here. But lo, the founder appears to have brought us on board to help dodge taxes.

By the way - you know that Flickr contest you set up for UKMMUG? Did you decide not to bother as it appears I'm the only entrant?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Robert Sharl said...

Thanks for those comments, Cog & Richard. I'm not surprised to hear that things were being made unnecessarily hard for you to get things right, and I've only singled a feature out here as an HI example for the very few colleagues (at the last count, one) who've even been told about this particular blog. If its started to get links, and if you're offended by this post being there I'll gladly take it down, and it wasn't meant to be a slight to anyone involved in the site (except perhaps the founder, whose motives would seem to have been questionable).

I apologise for upsetting you Richard, it wasn't my intention. Inevitably it sometimes happens in commenting on design issues that the people behind the example cited take offense. I'm not sure how one avoids that possibility, but I'm sorry if I posted out of turn. It's very much easier to highlight problems than it is to avoid them in the first place, and one of the functions of my job as a lecturer is to do that for examples within web design.

I'd forgotten all about the Flickr contest, as there was so little take-up. I'll check now, and if you're the only entrant I guess that means you win!

7:24 PM  

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