Honda US : Overwhelming results
A search engine's impressive range is displayed uninvitingly.
Honda US, a country division of the Japan-based vehicle maker, presents search results in up to 15 categories on a single page.
Honda US has a conventional site-wide search tool located at the top right of pages. Typing in a search term generates a page with results laid out on a four-column grid. All but the right-hand column are used to display matches for the search term, with a set of Top Recommendations as the first item, running across all three columns. Below this is a selection of category headings laid out symmetrically in single-column stacks, with up to three results shown in full for each and the total number indicated under the heading; not all are visible without scrolling. Categories correspond to product divisions and functions (for example, Honda Automobile, Honda Marine, Honda Corporate, Honda News & Views).
The right-hand column is titled Refine Results by Category and carries a list of the 15 categories covered by the search engine. It shows how many results have been found in each case, along with a note of the total (‘All sites’). Clicking on a category refreshes the rest of the page with the selected set of results in a conventional one-column format. The same transition occurs if the selection is made from the main results layout (by clicking on ‘All [xx] results’.
On first appearance Honda US’s search results page is in danger of looking so overwhelming as to need a search engine of its own to make sense of the mass of information. In a sense, though, that‘s what it has, in the shape of the list of categories in the right-hand column. The list serves, in effect, as a ready-extended dropdown with the advantage of giving the user a helpful and immediate at-a-glance chance to home in on the results most relevant to their enquiry (no scrolling required). The Top Recommendations feature is also potentially useful in circumventing the usual need to browse a mass of results, though the lack of any indication about what factors govern the recommendation cautions against putting too much faith in it.
Welcome and impressive as the search engine’s footfall is, the initial results page would be easier and more inviting to use if it tried to pack in less information. The three-result previews could be dispensed with, as most category lists are short enough that users will click through to check them regardless. A combination of Top Recommendations and a simple set of the category headings in which results were returned, with totals indicated and the ‘all sites’ option thrown in, would focus on the essential strengths of the tool.http://www.honda.com
First published on 16 September, 2010