Thursday 29 September 2011

BHO Issue 3: 'Search result filtering can be time-consuming when working chronologically'


Search results


Efficiency, memorability


The search results sequence is controlled by a relevancy algorithm. However, with a range of resources, users find it intellectually easier to approach the filtering process by date. This leads to more navigation forward and back through the result set.

Impact severity



That an option be made available on all search results to re-sort the result set chronologically. Any results without a specific date will come behind those that do. In addition, include a counter for each result as an aide memoire.


A search for lord sussex

Quantitative measure

Click where you would expect to be able to re-order these results by date

Actual question

Please click on where you'd expect to RE-ORDER these results chronologically by date

Initial click test result ('before')

July 2011, 200 responses.


Development change

Added two toggle links: sort by date and sort by relevance beneath the search text field (search for lord sussex on British History Online).

Modified interface

Follow-up click test result ('after')

September 2011, 154 responses.



Pretty clear agreement that the nomenclature and position of the toggle option is well understood. However, the statistical data of the query (result count, time taken) appears right-aligned and seems to have drawn a few people to it.

Looking at the small images of the page, it seems quite text heavy - maybe distinguishing the toggle option as a button and altering the format of the statistical data would create a clearer 'control' section to the search results which follow it, hopefully improving users' navigation.

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