Agree with others about user testing, but from my experience it is better to get the application to react intelligently to what us typed in than to expect to control what a user is going to enter. 

Type-ahead suggestions may help, but  I'm a fan of adding a bit of intelligence to the search app - if they type in something that finds a hit in your database a-z, promote those in your results screen - perhaps 'featured results' above federated search results etc. 

Also alongside usability testing, keep looking at what is actually being searched via the log files, and adjust over time as necessary. 


On 30 Jul 2010, at 13:22, Sarah Weeks <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Long time lurker, first time poster.
> I have a little usability question I was hoping someone could give me advice
> on.
> I'm updating the databases page on our website and we'd like to add a search
> box that would search certain fields we have set up for our databases
> (title, vendor, etc...) so that even if someone doesn't remember the first
> word in the title, they can quickly find the database they're looking
> through without having to scroll through the whole A-Z list.
> My question is: if we add a search box to our main database page, how can we
> make it clear that it's for searching FOR a database and not IN a database?
> Some of the choices we've considered are:
> Seach for a database:
> Search this list:
> Don't remember the name of the database? Search here:
> I'm not feeling convinced by any of them. I'm afraid when people see a
> search box they're not going to bother reading the text but will just assume
> it's a federated search tool.
> Any advice?
> -Sarah Beth
> -- 
> Sarah Beth Weeks
> Interim Head Librarian of Technical Services and Systems
> St Olaf College Rolvaag Memorial Library
> 1510 St. Olaf Avenue
> Northfield, MN 55057
> 507-786-3453 (office)
> 717-504-0182 (cell)