What's the difference between browsing and searching?

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

We find that sometimes users get confused on whether to browse the Plants Database or the Garden Watchdog, or to use the "search" feature.

The easiest way I can describe it is analogous to shopping. (Don't laugh - they say you should always write about what you know best ;o)

If I go shopping in search of something, I am looking for one particular item (a specific brand of jeans or a pair of off-white dress shoes - in my size, of course; a new 12 oz. hammer, or an ingredient for a recipe.) I don't want to look at ALL the jeans or shoes in the department store, wander through the hardware store for a few hours, or walk up and down every aisle of the grocery store. I just want to see those that most closely match what I'm looking for, and the faster I can zero in on the item I'm in search of, the faster I can buy it and get back to what I was doing.

On the other hand, if I want to browse for something new to fix for dinner or a gift for my husband, I'm willing to amble around the grocery store, or maybe even several stores until I find something that I like and want to buy.

In the same way, if I'm searching for a particular plant, either one that has certain characteristics (e.g., 24" tall, blooms in the spring, is hardy to my zone, and requires average water), or by name, I don't want to see dozens, hundreds, or thousands of plants that aren't the right height, color, hardiness, etc. That's a job for the basic or advanced search features, as they can cull out everything that doesn't match my criteria.

In the Watchdog, I can type in a company's name (part or the whole name) to search for that particular company.

If I want to browse through all the Iris mailorder sources in the Watchdog, I can use the "browse" feature to choose those listed under Plants: Iris. If I want to nose through all the cultivars beginning with a certain letter, I can use the browse feature of the PDB to do that.

Hope that helps explain how to choose between browsing and searching, and whatever you tool you choose to use, happy hunting!

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