This is a continuation of yesterday’s post on Search Interface Usability. This time we want to touch upon visual clues and search interfaces.

Such clues should be obvious; i.e., they should guide users without explicitly having to explain anything.  Often users interpret such elements as a friendly environment.

Whoever is in charge of Google’s interface is good at it.

A screenshot of Google’s Book results for lsi tutorial illustrates this:


[Hum.How comvenient query, you may think, since our tutorials on LSI/SVD is referenced in a book that ranks #1. And you bet you are right 🙂 ]

Nevertheless, back to the post.

Do a search in Google and note that its search interface has great usability clues in the form of anchor text consisting of action terms (below, in bold font).

At the top of the page you have crumb menu ending with a “more” link. This instructs the user to find more options. The arrow next to “more” suggests the user that this triggers a pulldown menu.

At the far right corner there are two links “MyLibrary” and “Sign in” link, instructing users to sign in;i.e. to register.

This is followed by visual clues like:

Search Books” in the search button

“Advanced Book Search

“Google Book Search Help”

Showing” (next to a form selection menu)

View all web results for…”

Then, there is also at the far right the following action text:

List view” and “Cover view

Note that to improve usability we don’t need to reinvent the wheel or mess with what users perceive as a “standard” search interface.