Search Engine Remake
One of the most important features that receives a UI + Usability revamp in the upcoming V4 is the Search function.
For a lot of users, instead of the forum and the message lists, the search engine is their entry point into a community forum. Nowadays not many have the desire and time to browse a sea of messages hoping to find what they need.
Therefore, it is vitally important that we focus our attention on the usability end of the search engine in order to meet users' expectations.
As you can see from the following screen shots, the Search engine in V4 has a simplified and more streamlined interface, compared to what we have in V3. Gone are the Advanced options from the initial screen that confuses many novice users. However, with a single click, advanced users can still find the options to narrow down the scope for their search. Notice that even the advanced options are easier to understand than what we currently have.
Simplified, but actually much more Powerful
In most forum systems, even though the search results are more relevant than message lists, users still have to wade through a sea of results hoping to spot what they look for. And if you didn't narrow down the scope before you hit the search button, you would probably see messages from unwanted forums showing up on the search results, making browsing time-consuming and forces you to repeat the search process with carefully selected filters.
The Search feature in V4 takes care of these very problems by allowing users to apply filters and sort order after the results are returned
. This is remarkably more flexible as users can customize the way results are presented on-the-fly
. In contrast, once the search action is performed, users have no way to customize the results in V3.
The following filters are available on the results screen in V4:
- Content Filter: you can narrow down the search results by showing FAQs only, Messages with Attachments only, Threads that received helpful replies, Threads that are marked as Answered, and any combination of the above;
- Forum Filter: you will see a list of forums and the respective result count within each on the left hand side. And you will be able to select one or more forums to filter the results;
- Time Filter: you can narrow down the results by date, too. In the current version, you have to specify this filter before you hit the search button, making it inflexible because if you "guessed" the time period wrong beforehand you will see no results returned and have to redo the search.
- Sorting: We have more sorting criteria in version 4, and again, you apply the sorting criterion on the results, not before you search.
- Filter indicators: Once you apply any filter on the results, you will see indicators at the top of the results list. This allows you to easily see the current filters and remove any unwanted ones with a mouse click.
More: Search is available everywhere (and results are shown on the spot!)
When people search, they generally want to see the results right where they are quickly. What I am saying is they prefer not to leave the current page just to find out if there is anything relevant. In V4, there is a search box available on the Navigational drop down menu, too. What this means is that you no longer have to go to the dedicated search page to perform a simple search! Type in a search phrase and you will see the results immediately, WITHOUT a single page refresh.
I hope you have enjoyed what you have seen so far about version 4! I will be writing more about the new features in V4 in the next posts in the coming weeks. That's it for now and have a great day!
post edited by Samuel -