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Transformative Website Style Guide: Search

This guide offers practical advice on creating a transformative library website.

Best Practices for Search

In general, library websites do not need a site search box. With limited content, users should be able to navigate your website without the need for a search box. If your site has a search box, it should search the entire campus website. See resources to the left for best practices on search box design.

Discovery Search Settings

However, you should absolutely include a search box to search WorldCat Discovery.

Discovery Search Box Image

Based on our PALNI-wide Discovery Usability Testing, we recommend using search icons or tabs with the default search box/tab being Everything and the other options being Books, Articles, and/or any other facets appropriate to the institution.
Participants at institutions with this type of setup had the most success in our studies. One example of such a design has been created by PALNI coordinator Lauren Magnuson, available here: Note: Lauren’s default design includes Videos, but we did not test any video searching, so cannot make recommendations about those at this time.
Using these tabs/icons will allow users to easily search for the type of material they need. If tabs/icons are not desired by an institution, we recommend using a search box that searches “everything” (everything being the database / WorldCat Central Index) that is not limited in any way.


If you have a tool like Blacklight available to you, definitely take advantage of the ability to include site search along with all of your other products, such as the University of Pennsylvania does.