Web conventions 101 - Search boxes

Search boxes should be placed at the top of a webpage. That's just one of those web coventions which shouldn't be broken. If you do this, this in general leads to poor usability.

Below is a screenshot of the Dutch Dixons website. Every time I want to search for a product I have this instinctive reaction to use the search box at the top of the page. That's unfortunately not the product search but a store locator.

Screenshot of the dixons.nl website

The actual product search is located on the left below the product categories. I wonder how many people do the same as I did. I guess because they're both a normal retail store and a web shop they felt the need to make this a prominant feature. However since the websites main function is a web shop everything should be focused on that goal. As it currently stands it's just poor interaction design.

If I where them I would remove the store locator and place it on a seperate page alltogether. I would move the search box to the center column below the tabs and make it a prominent feature. I really like how the bol.com and Amazon search look.

And finally something completely different that bothers me about this page. Why is everything in the centre column styled as a banner? Banner blindness is a serious problem you have to account for.

Conclusion

Search boxes should be placed at the top of a webpage. But anything that looks like a search box but isn't for searching your website should NOT be placed at the top of a web page.

Categorieën: usability web annoyances