Most users won’t refine pre-query. They don’t know the size and range of the index. But they will refine post-query, and it provides tremendous value.
Studies show a correlation between the number of words in the query and satisfaction with results. Search Assist improves query richness. Tips (e.g., did you mean?) improve confidence and suggestions (e.g., related concepts) can shift users into exploratory mode.
For query refinement tools, we found the right rail is the least discoverable. The top is the most obvious, but suggestions can get in the way of results. That’s why search assist is on top but hidden by default. Other examples include Local and Shopping.
In verticals such as News and Games, we’ve found that people are fine with two search boxes, one for the vertical and one for web search. In each vertical, we’re selectively exposing structured metadata (e.g., pricing in Autos) to support the decision making process.
It’s always nice when other companies corroborate our findings and experiences.
If you want to know more about these topics and about designing good search experiences come and listen to us talk at Business to Buttons in Malmö. There will be something for the expert as well as those new to search technology. You can also come and talk to us in our monter during the breaks. Hope to see you there!