Placing search at the heart of the navigation

From its inception in 2007 until quite recently,  the Volkswagen UK site was famous for its five task statements on the home page, which combined echoes of an old school green-screen menu with the disarming directness that had been a part of VW's brand for fifty years.

I was not however completely happy that search-oriented customers were being adequately catered for, and In this proposal I argued that an upgraded version of VW's Search needed to be a central focus of the site and given equal status with browsing the navigation -- you could in any case view it as “fuzzy navigation”, where search results are seen as a kind of disambiguation on the route to the user’s ultimate goal.

I suggested that below the initial task statements (“I want a new Volkswagen” etc.) we should add another: “I want to find out about”, followed by a search field. Selecting this would prompt a search results page grouped by section or content type, each section formatted as appropriate, and with perhaps the sections currently being promoted (e.g. Book a test drive”) placed at the top.

Although the autofill search box never made it to the home page, this did lead to an improved search tool, with search results arranged in semantically aggregated modules