Good content is sometimes not enough, the users must reach it so they can see it's good!

Use search buttons

Posted: October 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Good practices, Patterns, Usability fail | Tags: , , | 6 Comments »

A basic usability test (very cheap also) is logging remote on another person’s computer and watching him/her use the app/website/tool. It’s eye opening.

So I have seen my mother (who is not a computer savy person) hovering the page in search of buttons. When she searches things she doesn’t use the keyboard, she presses the “Search” button, and when that’s not available she gets confused. If the search field has an arrow image background on the right side, she tries to click that arrow and gets puzzled when nothing happens.


So, please use search buttons.

Oh, and please don’t name them “Go” or “>>” or stuff like that, name them “search”, and even put a magnifying glass on them.

6 Comments on “Use search buttons”

  1. 1 Dmitry said at 4:15 pm on October 19th, 2009:

    The thing with this approach is that you lock yourself into an accepted norm and cut away opportunities to innovate. I actually like the buttonless search fields because of their simplicity. The action to search can be done using the Enter key, and since you’re already typing the search string using the keyboard it is also the fastest way to do it.

    I think if the new way of doing it makes sense and is more optimal then it should be promoted. If more and more people take this on then this new approach will then become the standard and everyone will learn how to use it. After all, nobody knew how to use a mouse when they first tried it, but now they’re using it to click on the search button. If all the search fields are buttonless they’ll learn to use the Enter key, too.

    I agree that if you want a more accessible form then a button should be there — you won’t be taking any chances. Does this make business sense? Maybe. What I’m not so sure about though is shutting yourself off from innovation by doing what everyone else expects. If your way of doing it is better, I would do that and let people figure it out.

  2. 2 Adrian said at 4:22 pm on October 19th, 2009:

    You have a point. I guess it depends of your users and how well they get around the internet. But if you want to be sure, i’d go with the button.

  3. 3 Bree said at 8:58 pm on October 19th, 2009:

    “Does this make business sense?”
    Yep, always factor your audience into your decision.

    Also, it’s really splitting hairs but I’d like to set up A/B testing of a form with a button labeled “Search” and the other with just a magnifying glass icon, see if there is any appreciable difference.

  4. 4 Utilisez les boutons de recherche ! | Juste le zeste... said at 6:44 pm on October 27th, 2009:

    […] Article original : Usability Thoughts […]

  5. 5 shellyc said at 5:57 pm on November 13th, 2009:

    Any reason, arguments for the button being labeled ‘search’ and not ‘go’ other than just dont?

  6. 6 Adrian said at 6:02 pm on November 13th, 2009:

    one reason: can be easily mistaken for a subscribe form. “GO” doesn’t say anything about the action you’re about to make.

Leave a Reply