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FW: advice sought for design of a search facility for a sub-site

From: <EDixon@rnib.org.uk>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002 13:15:45 -0000
Message-ID: <9B66BBD37D5DD411B8CE00508B69700F01075966@pborolocal.rnib.org.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: David.Cobb@rnib.org.uk

Thank you for all the feedback.  I have briefly summarised some of the
findings of the evaluation of the search facility for the a particular
sub-site for background information.

For using the combo box for the sub-site search it was shown to be:

easier to navigate using access technology at most levels (did not have to
be an expert)
easier to understand for people with learning difficuilties 
combo box selection has a different default for the sub-site and the main
site, this meant that users rarely had the need to change the selection
users tended not to play around with the combo box and just read through it
before proceeding
the correct search results were therefore found first time round the
majority of the time
more sub-sites can be added to the selection without affecting the layout,
or accessibility and usability of the web page
less expereinced access technology users seemed to know how to skip to the
next stage without having to listen through all the options in the combo box

Against using the combo box for the sub site it was shown to be:

unlikely for users to change the default to search a different part of the
web site (This was not shown as part of the evaluation but I understand that
some experts argue this)

For using the radio button as part of the sub-site search it was shown that:

sighted people and some people with partial sight can see all the options
available straight away
expert users and experienced Internet users find radio buttons easy to use
quick to use for expert users of access technology

Against using the radio button as part of the sub-site it was shown that:

Some screen readers (such as JAWS) are unable to read out the correct status
of the selection when reading through the selection backwards.
If each radio button is labelled to the left instead of the right then most
of the time some screen readers such as JAWS will associate the wrong label
with each radio button.
Diffiuilt to know what option was actually selected as labels with the radio
buttons were shown to be confusing at times.
The search had to be carried out a few times before the correct results were
actually found, this was becasue to often the radio button option had been
changed without the user realising
Difficuilt to add further sub-sites to this selection in the future as this
would take up alot of space on the web page. Magnifictaion users would have
to scroll to see additional radio buttons on the web page.  The layout of
the webpage may need to be changed as a result of additional radio buttons.

The less expereinced users of access technology tended not to know how to
skip over the options to the next stage


If you have a special area of a site that is distinct from the rest of the
site for example a sub-site then what is the most usable and accessible way
to display a search facility  and search results that offers a scoped

Please refer to the following two links for examples of a search facility
offering a scoped search:



I have carried out an evaluation on both radio buttons searches and combo
box search with 25 users and have found that the combo box search was shown
to be easier to use for people with serious sight problems and learning
difficulties. I have been informed that similar tests have been carried out
with very different findings therefore any comments would be greatly


Liz Dixon
iSys Analyst Evaluator, RNIB 


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Received on Thursday, 24 January 2002 08:14:17 UTC

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