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17:4 Provide a Search Option on Each Page

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 2 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline




Provide a search option in a standard place on each page of a content-rich website.


A search option should be provided on all pages where it may be useful–users should not have to return to the homepage to conduct a search. Search engines can be helpful on content-rich websites, but do not add value on other types of sites.

Designers should be careful not to rely too heavily on search engines. They are not a substitute for good content organization, and do not always improve users’ search performance. Designers should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of including a search engine, and whether their website lends itself to automated searches.




  • Detweiler, M.C. & Omanson, R.C. (1996). Ameritech Web Page User Interface Standards and Design Guidelines. Ameritech (now SBC).
  • Farkas, D.K. & Farkas, J.B. (2000). Guidelines for designing web navigation. Technical Communication, 47(3), 341-358.
  • Levine, R. (1996). Guide to Web Style. Sun Microsystems.
  • Nielsen, J. (1996a, May). Top ten mistakes in Web design. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html.
  • Nielsen, J. (1997e, December). Changes in Web usability since 1994. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9712a.html.
  • Nielsen, J. (1999d, October). Ten good deeds in Web design. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/991003.html.
  • Spool, J.M., Scanlon, T., Schroeder, W., Snyder, C., & DeAngelo, T. (1997). Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide. North Andover, MA: User Interface Engineering.

Good Example:

The search box on the upper right hand corner is available on the home page as well as lower level pages.


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