A collection of learnings, coding adventures and random thoughts about living life.

Anybody who has used the net for research or part of everyday work knows how to search. Searching is one of the key aspects of using the internet. With so many information out there, you might never find what it is exactly you're looking for if you don't know how to search.

With that, I feel that it is essential for any application to be offering a search function. Forums have searches. Social networking sites have searches. Even Google started out as just a web search engine before it became a portal. If you offer any sort of reference site with information, searching should be a part of it.

A Web search engine is a tool designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. Information may consist of web pages, images, information and other types of files. Some search engines also mine data available in newsbooks, databases, or open directories. Unlike Web directories, which are maintained by human editors, search engines operate algorithmically or are a mixture of algorithmic and human input.

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_search_engine

But when you already do know how to search, and you got your results already, what do you do with it? You found substantial information, but not yet the one that you needed. You must filter it out. Other computation must be done to be able to extract the right information. You need to apply filters, navigate through the results (while keeping intact your initial results) and even sorting your results according to your preferred filter. And viola! Not all sites that offer searching offers sorting. Isn't a wonder?

I believe that sorting is a must for all sites that return search results. Take for a couple of example the following sites:

I've found a couple of examples ranging from bad, to semi failure to good ones.

search with sort but bad usability

The site was good, and search was quite robust. But the main pitfall was the design. I was quite overwhelmed with the buttons and tabs and other form elements that I can click. I was struck by awe and confusion. I immediately left the site. They had good sorting too, but quite bad in usability.

Google News offered me with automagic sorting

Google News was good, for they offered sorting for the results. For me, the problem is that I was presented with an "automagically" preset sorting preference. What if I'd want to sort the results by title? Hmmm..

LinkedIn Connections sorting

LinkedIn relied on the concept of an "addressbook" and default its sorting to alphabetically sorting their surnames. Its quite good, honestly and the usability is good too. Its just a shame that I can't sort by company name and/or title/position.

Simple but good sorting by sortby.org

I stumbled upon this site called sortby.org and found that their very simple search was quite effective. Although their preset sorting was quite limited as it is, it was all fitting for the nature of their results.

Devex has good sorting, but bad usability

The searching and sorting found in an international development site is quite good but bad in usability. The sort bar appears off from the whole display of the search results.

There are a lot of other sites that implement sorting but the usability is quite bad or just not optimized. Youtube's sort is a good starting point.

Youtube's good sort plus good usability looks okay.

Youtube's good sort plus good usability looks okay. It presents a very intuitive use of its good search and sorting of results. For now, I'll use Youtube's style as my reference for sorting. I haven't found any good ones out there. I'll be delighted if anyone could point me to one good resource though.