I have overridden the default Drupal /search page with a panel view that is listing users. In this view, users can be filtered by gender, age, location, etc - and it's working quite well! I have paired Contextual Filters and exposed Filter Criteria enabled to allow GET variables to be passed to the view while still allowing for a Filter Criteria fallback. Achieving this took a few experimental patches.
Now I need to place a search form on the home page that has a few of these filter options. This form needs to direct users to the /search page and take with it whatever the user enters. I've tried using the Exposed Filters Block but doing so removes the filters from the /search page entirely and negates the view header and footer which are unfortunately essential to the view.
Creating a basic HTML GET action form that sends users to the /search page works well, but that's a nasty long URL and I would prefer to keep this within Drupal. It seems that changing this form to use POST instead of GET does not work.
Is there some way to create a stripped-down form that leads into this search view? Using the Forms API would be nice but I'm open to any other solutions presented.