Things We Hate About The Website: search navigation

Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at December 7, 2005 07:55 PM

Here's one thing that drives me nuts...patent searching on the USPTO site.

Let's say I go to the USPTO's search page and search for patents to Idaho inventors. I would type "is/ID"
Capture11-29-2005-3.06.41 PM.jpg
and hit the Enter key. That would give me the following results:
Capture11-29-2005-3.07.30 PM.jpg
Whoa! Too many results (blame it on Micron and HP). I better narrow my search. I'll change the search to include "ic/Boise" and I'll hit the Enter key. What do I then get:
Capture11-29-2005-3.07.59 PM.jpg
Say what? Result 51 of 100?

What happened? The focus didn't follow my cursor. When I selected the input box and added "ic/Boise" the focus remained on the "Next 50 hits" button instead of following me to the "Refine Search" box. Argh.

To complete my search I can't just hit Enter. I have to physically press the "Refine Search" button:
Capture11-29-2005-3.08.28 PM.jpg

Is this something that ONLY annoys me?

Click here for our previous "things we hate."

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MLS Says:

December 8, 2005 03:06 AM

Here is a question, I don't know if you answer to commemts or not. But I was thinking on taking the Patent Bar before law school do you think that would be a good idea???

Adam Rosi-Kessel Says:

December 8, 2005 10:58 AM

This is actually a little trickier than it looks. Browsers are inconsistent about which button is "pressed" when you hit enter in a text input box on a form, rather than pressing the associated button, where there are several "submit" buttons for the same form. The web application on the other end can't count on any particular behavior. The way to handle it is to not assume anything, and if you notice that the "refine search" field is filled in, assume that "next" was not pressed even if the browser reports that it was.

It's trickier still if multiple fields are entered: what would you want the behavior to be if someone fills in a number for "jump to" and attempts to refine the search all at once?

Of course, web designers have dealt with these problems for years, and workarounds do exist. I would be happy to explain this in more detail to the patent office CGI folks if they need any tips.

Adam Rosi-Kessel Says:

December 8, 2005 11:36 AM

Sorry about the spurious paragraph breaks above. When previewing my comment, the paragraph breaks weren't visible, so I added HTML tags for it. Apparently, the breaks are added in after the preview formatting.

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