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Another important piece of information often missing from Web search results is the number of found items, referred to in the industry as "hits."
Earlier, I showed that the search facility of DigiGuide.com (see Figure 5.20) includes a lot of duplicated information in its results (Blooper 33: Hits Look Alike). DigiGuide's search results has another problem: It doesn't say how many items were found (Figure 5.43). There isn't even an indication of how many pages of results were found ”just an uninformative " next " button. Users have to scroll and page through the results to see whether their search found a few, a few dozen , or a few hundred items. Not very customer friendly.
Some websites don't show the total number of hits with search results but do provide some information that lets users judge the quantity of results. Sorry, that's not good enough: It requires too much mental effort. Web designers should avoid making users think about anything but their own goals.
For example, Enron's website comes tantalizingly close to showing a total hit count but doesn't quite do it. In addition to a list of results pages, it shows how many items matched each of the given search terms (Figure 5.44). So close, but yet, so far!
How hard can it be to show the number of hits? Lots of sites do it, such as Amazon.com (Figure 5.45).
Brinck, Gergle, and Wood (2001) list pieces of information search results must include in order to be usable. The number of hits is one of them. Search results should therefore follow Amazon's example and show the exact number of hits ”as well as the search terms ”above the list of results.
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