Do we have too many ways to search?

Madhava Enros madhava at
Mon Aug 11 14:25:36 UTC 2014

Hi Mike -

It’s definitely on the radar, UX-wise.

The more acute problem right now, which is getting addressed piece by piece right now, is broken redundancy — i.e. a lot of different search inputs that all work slightly differently, or support different behaviors. Some offer suggest, some don’t; some allow you select a search provider, some don’t; some will send a single word or a search keyword to a search provider (i.e. define:wombat) whereas others will return an error page. All of the above are being fixed.

At the moment, we have people using all of these search inputs, so it’s difficult to just start canceling certain of them out. We are going to watch user behavior more closely here, though, to help us figure out how to optimize.

My personal take — I think we should work on making what we think could be the best main search interface (the awesomebar) better and better and so attract more people to using it more of the time. When we see usage dropping off on others, that’s when we might consolidate.


Madhava Enros  |  Firefox User Experience  |

On August 11, 2014 at 10:18:43 AM, Mike Conley (mconley at wrote:

I saw somebody tweet this a few days ago:  

and it did strike me that there might indeed be a redundancy problem  
here. When a user first opens Firefox, by default, they're going to  
have 3 inputs for searching (AwesomeBar, search bar, about:home search  
input). Same goes for new tabs now.  

That's quite a lot of redundancy, and I wonder if it's perhaps too  
much. I know there's been a bit of work lately experimenting with  
search, and I just wanted to raise this redundancy as a little flag in  
case it has somehow slipped past the radar.  

Not that redundancy is intrinsically bad, but it is sometimes the  
symptom of a deeper problem.  

I originally opened this as a bug[1], where there's already been a  
little bit of discussion, but after reflection, it was clear that  
there wasn't anything immediately actionable in the bug report, so  
I've closed the bug and moved the discussion here to expose it to a  
wider audience. Perhaps read the bug comments to bring yourself up to  
speed on the current state of the discussion.  

Are there any additional thoughts on this?  


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