Simplify Your Search?

Here’s something interesting to think about: Should you simplify the design of your search fields? Looking at various sites, like IMDB and Amazon, I’ve noticed that a lot of sites feature drop-down boxes allowing you to pick what areas of the site to search (in the case of Amazon, Books, DVD, Electronics, etc). Here are a couple of examples:

Then there are sites that move this feature to an “Advanced Search” page.

There are two arguments about this:

  1. It makes it easier to find things by offering more power up front.
  2. It confuses people to have too many options.

I kind of like having the extra functionality within reach when I’m searching, but that doesn’t mean everyone else does. However, I absolutely cannot stand sites that force you to make a selection, rather than having an “all” option. It’s not like it’s difficult to create a search system that can look in all areas at once.

What do you think? Is it better to have the dropdown, or not? Why? Of course it really depends on the website, and the audience.