Does advanced search sound too advanced?

In Advanced Search: Is The Name A Problem?, Anders M Olausson notes that very few people tend to use “Advanced search” and suggests a way of changing that.

I think that people not using the “advanced search” on websites may not be a problem in itself. If, however, it means people can’t find what they are looking for because they don’t use the options available in the advanced search interface there is a problem.

Anders suggests that calling it “Advanced search” could be part of the problem since the word “Advanced” may scare some people off. It sounds likely to me, but using “Advanced” is very widespread. Even people who think a lot about usability use it. For example, in Search: Visible and Simple, Jakob Nielsen states:

Do not offer advanced search from the home page. Advanced search leads users into trouble, as they invariably use it wrong. When it makes sense, offer advanced search as an option users can link to from the search results page: “Didn’t find what you were looking for? Try advanced search.”

It makes sense to only show the advanced option once the user has performed a search. But nowhere does Jakob mention that we could call it something else.

Anders says:

I want visitors to understand that Advanced Search actually is Easy Search or Better Search.

Whether it really is easier or better depends a lot on the search engine and its user interface, but assuming that is the case, how can we get people to use it more? Changing the name is one way, and a few different names that come to mind are “Refined”, “Extended”, and “Enhanced”.

Do you think it matters what “Advanced search” is called? What do you think we should call it? Should it even exist?

Posted on November 21, 2007 in Usability