[Web4lib] question: use of tabbed search boxes on home page?

Melissa Belvadi mbelvadi at upei.ca
Wed Mar 31 15:23:22 EDT 2010

We've noticed a big trend in academic library web sites is to layer
several search boxes (eg catalogue search, journal a-to-z lookup,
federated article search) in a tabbed box, usually with the catalogue on

We're wondering if anyone who uses this design has done either a formal
usability study or logfile analysis of the different search boxes to
1. are people typing the right kind of search into the right box?
2. how often anyone even notices the tabs to use anything underneath
the top, default one? (aka is the top one getting searches that belong
in the others)?

At the moment, our own site has four (yes, four) search boxes
essentially listed down the middle of the home page. Our recent formal
usability study is showing fairly conclusively that first year students
have absolutely no idea what the journal a-to-z lookup one is for (and
we don't have journal holdings in the catalogue, only in this), and
changing the title or other verbiage above it doesn't seem to help.
We're getting better results with the "Find Books" (catalogue) and "Find
Articles" (federated search) boxes and are worried that if we layer the
"find articles" underneath "find books" via that kind of tabbed layout,
that we'll end up seeing a lot of article searches in the catalogue.


Melissa Belvadi
Emerging Technologies & Metadata Librarian
University of Prince Edward Island
mbelvadi at upei.ca

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