7 reasons to replace advanced search with filters so users can easily find what they need

Link to advanced search under the search box

I started making websites over 20 years ago.

Advanced search is probably one of the earliest patterns I remember from the early days. The pattern is a link under the search box that takes users to a page with search options.

How bad can something so simple be?

After all there’s just a link, a page and a form.

And yes, advanced search is certainly better than all of the other patterns I’ve roasted in the past. But in comparison to in-context filters, it gives users an unnecessarily bad experience.

Here’s why:

Reason #1: Advanced search is long winded to use

This is because the user has to navigate between the search form and the results every time they want to change their search criteria.

Moving back and forth is long winded

Reason #2: Advanced search decreases the chance of getting results

This is because every possible option is displayed even if they don’t have results.

All options shown even if they’re not relevant to the current results

Reason #3: Advanced search is more likely to make users give up

This is because not getting results the first time causes a lot of users to give up.

Reason #4: The link to advanced search is hard to spot

This is because the link is not prominent.

The link underneath main search box is hard to spot

Reason #5: The advanced search options lack context

This is because the form is shown on a separate page away from the list.

It’s not clear what the options relate to

Reason #6: Advanced search increases cognitive load

This is because all possible options are shown in one big form.

Displaying all the options in one form increases cognitive load

Reason #7: Advanced search may cause users to fill out all the fields

This is because most users expect every form field to be required unless marked optional (which makes reason #3 worse).

Use filters instead

Because they solve every problem that advanced search creates.

Filters in context of the results