Best Search Website Option for User Interface

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More and more online services and shopping websites are including advance search options for users. Whether looking to buy online now, or just checking out the website to see if it is a useful resource that the user will come back to later, having this better search capability working and working well is critical.

However, too many websites miss the boat on one of the most important search methods. While everyone seems to nail down giving users the ability to choose a single option from a list, the vast majority are missing the obvious option of giving users the ability to also choose to search all EXCEPT for one member of the list.

Consider Google’s own Shopping Search engine which functions by retrieving products for sale online that match the shopper’s search keywords. For all but the most uncommon products, Google search returns hundreds or thousands of results. While this is a great demonstration of Google’s ability to index almost any shopping website, it could also quickly overwhelm shoppers and cause them do abandon their online shopping search.

To alleviate the problem of too much information being too hard to sort through, the Google Shopping Searches provide a variety of filtering options to their users including, price filtering, minimum store rating filters, and filtering by category. The option to filter results to a single store is also included. But, what is conspicuously absent is the ability to eliminate a particular store from the results.

For example, when searching for certain products, especially higher-end items, or those that are sensitive or otherwise important to the shopper, it may be very desirable to eliminate all results from eBay. This is actually quite difficult to do.

Since the retailer ratings only apply to eBay in general, and not each individual seller, they cannot be eliminated this way. Simply including –eBay in your search query doesn’t work either because the word "ebay" isn’t in the webpage that has been found, it is only in the name of store, which is not part of the search criteria.

The best way to eliminate eBay, or any other single store (or multiple stores for a truly advanced search) from the shopping results would be to have a "Not" or "Except" option that could be used on the "Stores" list. Alas, neither Google, nor many other shopping sites offer this ability. Since most shopping searches at Google are clogged with result from eBay, many users move on to other shopping search engines instead, creating a big potential loss for Google.

It isn’t just the big search engines either. Consider the stock photography meta search site EveryStockPhoto which was recently the subject of a favorable write up at Web Worker Daily. I spent just 5 seconds on the site before realizing that it had enormous potential. But, after 5 minutes, I left without bookmarking the site, and with no intention of returning.

The problem?

EveryStockPhoto searches several stock photography websites for stock photos that match your needs. One of those sites is Flickr. As you might imagine, based on size alone, Flickr results dominate the results returned on any EveryStockPhoto search. Unfortunately, unlike dedicated stock photography websites, Flickr has a wide variety of users, some of whom are very savvy about rights, and licensing images, and a lot more who are not quite as savvy.

As a professional freelancer, I can’t afford to have any potential trouble around my products, even simple misunderstandings about whether or not a photograph was or was not intentionally licensed. Regardless of how the ultimate legality was eventually decided, most likely in my favor, just the appearance of trouble would be enough to scare off many clients for a long time to come.

Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate Flickr from the results, or even sort by source so that I could manually ignore them. I can choose which site to search, but that kind of defeats the purpose, since each site already has its own search functionality. In fact, a site like Everystockphoto might be better off having a NOT search instead of a regular select one search.

And, so it goes.

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