1.3 Using search
Using a website search function can be challenging for people with limited literacy skills. Typing in a search term requires (somewhat) accurate spelling—and some search engines help with spelling better than others. Reading and comparing search results to identify the best option is a cognitively challenging task.
As a result, compared with users with advanced literacy skills, users with limited literacy skills:
- Spend more time on information search tasks3,10
- Are more likely to give up if they can’t find information quickly10
- Have a hard time thinking of search terms14
- Tend to only click 1 or 2 links in the search result14
- Add terms to refine a search instead of changing their search strategy15
The ways people with limited literacy skills tried to find information differ from user to user.10
In previous healthfinder.gov usability testing, the team observed 5 users while they searched for information in 5 completely different ways. Some used the left navigation menu, while others used the homepage buttons or the search bar.