Common Mistakes /
Example 5: Search tool
Date: 23 september 2003

The case:

It's a common best practice to add a search tool, especially if your site has a wide content. Looking for information regarding the French president Jacques Chirac on one of the major French radio website was potentially a good idea. Unfortunately it turns out to be a very strange user experience. The search box was placed at the top right corner, which is a generally admitted best practice (Image 01). So I typed in "chirac" and then press the "enter" button on my keyboard. (Image 02). For around 3 minutes, this is what I had to see (Image 03 to image 08: please look into the bottom right corner, you'll see the time !).

I had a blank screen (that is a far too slow response time for the server). I made the test several times at different time of the day, different month and my DSL connection is not involved in that at all...

With Google, users are expecting a response time within 10 seconds max. As a result, that internal search tool is absolutely useless and I am convinced that no one is using it... By not following the standards, that tool can be scraped, what a return on investment, isn't it ?

Errors / Recommendations:

Errors: response time far above expectations. Option 1: have a small message displayed saying for example "we are looking for the information, please be patient..." Option 2: re-engineering of the search tool, integration of a working new search tool. Option 3: remove that option, as is, it is ruining the basic purpose (and the credibility ?) of that site, which is, if I am correct, to provide correct and accurate information in a timely manner...

Screenshots (click to enlarge in a new window)

Image 01, home page
Image 02, search query
Image 03, search !
Image 04, search 18:14 (6.14 pm)
Image 05, search 18:14 (6.14 pm)
europe1, home page
search query
Image 06, search 18:15 (6.15 pm) Image 07, search 18:15 (6.15 pm) Image08, search 18:17 (6.17 pm) Image 09, results at 18:18 (6.18 pm)  
oh, finally !
Important note: these examples are taken at a certain point of time. It might be that they have changed in between. We are (therefore) using screenshots. Day of "recording" and webadresses are mentioned.