I was thinking if it could be of any interest to post this at all, but now I’m doing it anyway.
When I was surfing for great AJAX usability experience, I ran into buyersvine.com where the search usability has ended up in a total disaster.
Buyersvine.com has created a drag and drop search function, I’m not sure if it’s right to call it AJAX, it’s more a DHTML implementation; but no matter what technology it is: it’s a classic example of a “because-it-is-technically-possible" misunderstanding.
On the search page they ask people to drag and drop search terms (called "search tags") from several lists to a collection of search fields. It not easy to do, especially not if one need to scroll the page at the same time.
One have a lot of search options to choose from, covering everything from the reasonable "Wine by Type" and "Wine by Price" to the more uncommon "Wine by Day" (what about a wine special usable for Wednesdays??), "Wine by Sport" not to mention the "Wine by Profession" (I never realised before that some wines are especially suitable for professors and others for poets).
What isn’t obvious is that the search is combined with 'and' between the search fields: if one selects the price range 50-70 and 70-90, the search shows up empty – because no wine cost both 50 AND 70 USD. At the same time: there are no results for at lot of the suggested "search tags" e.g. on the day tested the site didn’t have any wine in several of the suggested price ranges.
This search could have a huge usability improvement if they:
• Remove the drag and drop functionality
• Indicated next to the search tags how many results one can expect (e.g. "$150-170 (0)")
• Make users select the tags by checkboxes (when multiple can be selected) and radiobuttons where only one selection makes sense (for "Wine by Price", "Wine by Region" etc.)
A great example that less is more
See the video or try it out yourself on http://buyersvine.com/Tags