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by Gerry McGovern
Nua Internet Consultancy and Developer

I recently wrote about why a quality search function is so important to your website. Now, I'd like to examine standards for advanced search and for presenting search results.


  1. The advanced search box should be larger than the basic search box as people will want to do more elaborate search queries (approximately 30 characters) .

  2. A "Help" link should be provided on how to use the advanced search functionality. This link should be close to the Search button.

  3. In addition to providing the reader with the possibility of entering Boolean AND/OR options in the advanced search query, the reader should be given radio button options that allow matches on "Any word," "All words," and "Precise phrase." This is because many readers don't understand how to use AND/OR syntax correctly.

  4. Advanced search should allow people to fully exploit the metadata collected on the content. For example, if date, country, product type, and author metadata was collected, then people should be able to refine their search based on this metadata.


  1. The search results page should avoid showing anything that does not directly relate to the search in question, as this can confuse and distract people while they are carrying out what is a very specific activity.

  2. The search results page should use a single-column layout.

  3. The number of documents found should be displayed between the top search box and the actual results.

  4. Search results should show results in the order of relevance.

  5. The basic search box should be displayed at the top of the search results and again at the bottom.

  6. The search keyword(s) used in the search process should be displayed in the search box.

  7. In the case of an advanced search, present the basic search box at the top of the search results and at the bottom (as the advanced search environment tends to have a lot of features and thus takes up a lot of space on the screen). If possible, this basic search box should contain the advanced search choices that were made.

  8. Search results should not show duplicate entries of content. This includes multiple URLs pointing to the same piece of content.

  9. Each search result should be laid out as follows:
    • The searched for word or phrase should be highlighted (bolded) in the result.
    • The title of the document should be displayed, hyperlinked and in 10 point font.
    • All other text should be in 8 point font.
    • Show a two-line summary of the document.
    • The URL for the document should be displayed unlinked, on a separate line.
    • The classification under which the document can be found should appear last, hyperlinked. It should be preceded by the word "Classification." It should link through to the final classification presented.

  10. The search results should be broken down into batches of ten.

  11. There should be a set of links to the other batches at the end of each batch of results up to the tenth batch. (For example: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10.) The first batch should not be hyperlinked. It can be in a different color to show the reader that this is where they currently are.

  12. When the reader clicks on the tenth batch, they should be presented with a 1-20 set of batches at the bottom of the page (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20). When they click the twentieth batch they should be shown 10-30, and so on in rolling batches of 20.

  13. "Next" and "Previous" links should be provided. "Next" links you to the next page, "Previous" to the previous page.

  14. The document selected by the reader from the search results should show the reader's query text selected within the document, allowing the reader to determine the relevance of that document to their query.

� Gerry McGovern, Nua Limited. All rights reserved.

Part 1

Gerry McGovern is the Managing Director of Nua, acclaimed Internet and Consultancy company with offices in Dublin, Ireland and New York. Nua specialise in the creation and evolution of online brands and relationships.

Gerry started Nua Internet Surveys, a free weekly email of emerging trends on the Internet, almost two years ago and it is now recognised as the number one resource for global demographics and Internet statistics.

How Many Online:

Nua Internet Surveys has been quoted or referenced by: San Jose Mercury, USA Today, CNN Online,, Yahoo Internet Life, Mecklermedia, ZDNet, The Financial Times, The Australian, The Irish Times and was recently quoted by the Commerce Dept. of US government in their paper, "The Emerging Digital Economy".

Gerry is also the author of a weekly column, New Thinking, which has received numerous accolades and a book, THE CARING ECONOMY

The Caring Economy
Order Today!

The Caring Economy, by Gerry McGovern, is published by Blackhall Publishing of 26 Eustace Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. ISBN 1-901657-61-2 Price _27.50 or US$35.95
Email: [email protected]

It is also available in the United States from Irish Books & Media, 1433 East Franklin Avenue, MN, USA 55404-2135. Call toll-free: 1-800-229-3505.

Gerry McGovern: [email protected]
Nua Internet Surveys:
New Thinking:
Tel: 00 353 1 6768996
Fax: 00 353 1 6613932
New York
Contact: Niall Swan - [email protected]
Tel: 212 358 1775
Fax: 212 358 1760

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