Firstly, I know, I'm a crazy person. I have rapid cycling BiPolar and am Manic right now, so I apologise if this seems... erratic (I like to think of myself as a slightly saner Mordin Solus when I'm like this, if you read this in his voice, I would approve):
Early after launch, someone asked for a fourth search slot, and a blue responded that they were running out of UI space to add a fourth. I was looking at the search tab, and felt that the UI there could be improved. I've helped a few people with their games (I'm a games writer and journalist by trade), and so gotten along with a lot of devs and artists, all of which have explained to me the use of keeping things 'tidy' and to make sure that everything matches to the best of ability.
I'll just show you the picture, easier that way:
Now the picture on the left is Blizzards current setup. As you can see the gaps between fields are all over the place in size, there is barely any standardisation between them. This allows me to add an additional field for searching, while almost maintaining the same 'free space'
Interestingly, I would also edit the individual search fields. I would move the red box down 1 pixel, then shorten the box entirely by 1 pixel, so that way both top and bottom of the search field match (See purple, 7px/6px). It looks like there is a pixel of space extra there for that button, so shouldn't be hard. That would actually give them MORE space.
They could also instead of making it 15/5 make it 20/5, but that would run them into a space defecit of 7 pixels. these pixels could be taken from the very top and bottom if required, since these need less space, and the difference would be barely perceptable. With the additional search box and search box tweaks it's an 1 pixel space increase, even at 20/5.
To give you a rough look at how the two search tabs would look side by side.... (left side is nicer looking due to double save on right side)
The 3 stat search is incredibly limiting, at the least a 4th option would narrow the searches and speed up browsing many times, getting people out of the AH minigame and back into the real deal. ^^
Theoretically you could squeeze even a 5th in there without it looking too cluttered, you would have a 4 pixel defecit though, on 15/5: which would likely mean top and bottom gaps would be 13 each to make up for it. I'll maybe fiddle with my picture to see if I can edit it to add what a 5th would look like. It would be a 'little' cluttered though I would think.
Honestly, I don't give two craps how cramped the UI is if it offers me more search options. I'll take function over form any day. (I don't think your tweaks make it looked cramped, just saying. Throw a 5th in there even).
The reason we don't have a 4th search option is obviously not a graphics problem. It's certainly not a computational problem either. The only reason I can think of is because it has some control over pricing of items.
There are so many problems with the AH that I've lost count... Not being able to search for damage ranges on offhands, rings, and necks is my most frequent annoyance. Not being able to access it from within the game world makes it so that you have to leave your game and lose your NV stacks whenever you need to bid on an item about to expire. Everyone tries to snipe auctions in the last 1 minute of bidding (they fixed this in WoW by adding a couple minutes on whenever someone bids). When you search for an item by name, you can't search for specific stats.
It's not that Blizzard doesn't know about these problems and how to fix them, it's that they don't want to. While it's admirable that you put some thought into this, but I'm sure you know it's for naught. Btw you didn't consider that they have to localize the UI for every language that they support so although the changes may be fine in English, they may not in another language.
GOD YES, I love it. I'm a UI developer and never understood their lack of space comment. The search should be a infinite/magic search starting with one dam searchable stat select box and if you select something in that field, it creates a second selector box, and so on, so you could infinitely add search parameters, (cap it at 7 or something), then use a dam scroll bar, I will deal with it being ugly if it is functional.
This has been bugging me like crazy, 3 filters isn´t nearly enough when searching for items. 4 is the absolute minimum i m o, 5 would be optimal. Also while we´re at it, who came up with the brilliant idea to be able to sort items after armor and buyout ONLY? I want to sort items after "time left", "dex" or whatever I´m specifically looking for at that moment. It´s completely senseless having to sift through a shitload of auctions when you could´ve easily gotten rid of 95% of them with a decent search engine.
Oh gods yes please. This would be incredibly helpful. Nice to see you prove that it's possible too!
Definitely post to the official forums, ask for feedback there. (though please don't be all 'blizz read this NOW' or anything) Hopefully we'll see an improvement to the AH soon!
Well done OP, pro stuff.
EDIT: I like how in usual polls, there's always at least 1-2 people voting against the majority. You'll never get a unanimous decision. But in this one? 42 votes say yes, 0 say no. Everyone (so far) wants more search fields. Here's to hoping we get them.