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

Wiegand, Laura K. Wiegandl at uncw.edu
Wed Mar 31 15:40:15 EDT 2010

Hi Melissa, 

We are redesigning our homepage to make use of a tabbed search box. I did usability testing with about a total of 50 undergraduate students to see if they were asked to find a book would they click on the "Find Books and More" tab, and if they were asked to search for an article would they click on the "Find Articles and eResources" tab. The results show that most *all* of the students were able to successfully find the search tabs on our beta homepage. Now, whether they'd do the right search when they get there, I don't know...but at least they see the tabs and differentiate between the two.

Another interesting decision we've made based on Google analytics data is to actually present the Find Articles box as the top/default search. Right now "Search Catalog" and "Articles & eResources" are two equally placed links on our home page and the data shows that 40% of the clicks from that page are to articles, and only 25% are for the catalog. With the intent of giving our users what they want, we're putting the articles & eResources box on top.

Just my 2cents from a small academic library, 

UNCW Randall Library

-----Original Message-----
From: web4lib-bounces at webjunction.org [mailto:web4lib-bounces at webjunction.org] On Behalf Of Melissa Belvadi
Sent: Wednesday, March 31, 2010 3:23 PM
To: web4lib at webjunction.org
Subject: [Web4lib] question: use of tabbed search boxes on home page?

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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