November 15, 2007

Spotlight Search

by at 1:05 PM

One of the tricky product-design issues we've wrestled with since the inception of Topix is how to expose 400,000 channels of news. We tried a number of approaches, including:
1. a ghastly left-navigation


2. splitting our Search box into multiple panes

3. highlighting categories on search results pages

4. wiki-style inline links to related categories

5. guiding users into our comprehensive but unwieldy directory

But none of these ever really seemed to work well.

Until now.

Behold... "Spotlight Search"

Now appearing in the upper-left of every Topix page, you'll find a conventional looking search box that does the unthinkable: It actually helps you find categories of news.

Yes, we know it's crazy talk, but just give it a whirl and you'll see. The type-ahead functionality draws from a list of categories (as opposed to the "frequent searches" you'll find on other sites) and the breadth of exposure is pretty dramatic.

Start typing, and in as few as 3 characters you'll start getting deep-links to a lot of great edited & robo-blogged pages. Want to run a regular keyword search? Click the "Search" button and you'll be taken to the good-ol' index of most-recent results.

spotlight.jpg

Hats off to "Skate-Rat" and "The Mage (+25)" for dreaming this impossible dream.