Find with Tags

Best Practice · Last modified February 25, 2010

Provide a keyword search indexed on the the tag database. Show users a list of all tags. When displaying an object as the result of a search, show all of that object's tags. Don't build a separate tag search interface away from your primary search.

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What Problem Does This Solve?

A user wants to find a specific object (photo, bookmark, book, article, and so on) through searching or browsing.

When to Use This Pattern

Use when there is a large collection of objects to sort through or manipulate.

What's the Solution?

  • Allow a keyword search through the tag database.
  • Allow the user to browse through a list of tags.
  • Once an object is found, display all the associated tags and allow the user to pivot off one of these other tags to create another search based on the new tag as keyword.
  • Allow combinations of words to be searched together.
  • Allow tag search to be done through the same search interface as the rest of the site. Flickr uses a single text box and then on the results page, allows the user to constraint the search by tags.


Objects that have tags associated with them should be able to be found through a search and browse mechanism using the associated tags. Tags should be just another item of metadata that can be searched.

Why Use This Pattern?

For large collections of assets, mechanisms for searching to find a specific object should be part of the findability philosophy of the site. Searching through tags and using tags as a finding aid allows users to use their own words and their mental models of the item for later retrieval.