People who use search are more likely to purchase.
User-friendly site search experiences lead to a higher conversion rate.
Autocomplete can help getting the users to the right product page.
Zero results page can be a valuable source of information – so we can use this to improve our google ad words results.
With popularity of search engines such as Google, Baidu, Bing and the powerful capabilities that they offer, users have knowingly or unknowingly evolved mentally and have started trusting the results more and more. This type of behavior has overtime transformed in being a natural thing a man would do or expect to have.
Its like a smart phone in today’s world, imagine loosing your mobile devices or a world without it, thats what it is to not have a global search on your digital product.
In this article lets look at the some of the benefits global search has to offer and i’ll try to outline some of the steps in creating an effective search for a digital product.
Step1: Design & Layout
A search box is a combination of input field and submit button.
Tip: accompany search box with magnifying-glass icon.
Icons are by definition, a visual representation of an object, action, or idea also leaving a strong Information scent making it a clear signpost.
There’s an ongoing debate about the best place for the search box on a website. But many popular websites such as YouTube, Amazon, IMDB, BEST BUY place the search boxes towards the top center or top right of the page. A. Dawn Shaikh and Keisi Lenz created a chart showing the expected position of the site search form, according to a survey they conducted with 142 participants. The study found that the most convenient spot for users would be the top right or top left of every page on your site, where users could easily find it using the common F-shaped scanning pattern. Placing it somewhere unexpected means users need to put in extra effort to find the search box.
Users first look to the upper-right corner for search. If they don’t find it there, they start scanning the top of the page.
Tip: Study users’ activity using a heat map or an eye-tracking tool. This will help you identify the areas of user focus. You can place the search box there.
Step 2: Good practice to have a search button for the search box for users to acknowledge the entry.
Despite the fact that search can be easily triggered by hitting Enter, some users still search for a more traditional “submit” button. A button also helps people recognize that there’s an additional step to trigger the search action, even if they decide to do this by pressing Enter. Other alternative is with auto suggest results, its a natural behavior for users to acknowledge by selecting an entry.
- Make sure the submit or search button is sized appropriately, so that users don’t have to point their mouse or tap their finger with perfect precision.
- A decent clickable area makes it easier to both spot and click.
Let users submit search using the Enter or by clicking the icon. However, majority of users still have the habit of clicking an actual button to submit search. In order to prevent keyboard accessibility issues, it’s important to test the form. The basics of keyboard testing is simple—the Tab key can be used to navigate through form controls, Enter selects an element. So having the best of both makes the interface more seamless.
Step 3: Clarify what users can search for.
It is a good idea to include a sample search query in the input field to suggest to users what queries can be used. If the user can search for multiple criteria, use the input hint to explain that.
Use an auto-suggestion mechanism. Auto-suggestion is a powerful tool that reduces data input and elevates customer experience.
Step 4: Clarity on results pages.
After helping users input their search data as quickly, easily and accurately as possible, your goal should now be to deliver the most accurate search results in a legible and easy-to-digest fashion.
Don’t erase users’ query after they hit the Search button
Keep the original text. Query reformulation is a critical step in many information journeys: if users don’t find what they’re looking for then they might want to search again using a slightly modified query.
Its a good practice to display number of search results found, the number of matching results helps the user make more informed query reformulations.
Show search progress, if it takes more than 3 seconds to fetch the result.
Ideally search results should be displayed immediately, but if it’s not possible, a progress indicator should be used as system feedback for user. You should give your users a clear indication of how long they need to wait.
Some website notify users that search will take some time.
Tip: If search takes too long (more than 10 seconds) you can use animation. Fine animation can distract your users and make them ignore long searching times.
Tip: Don’t return ‘no results’
Dropping someone on a page with no results can be frustrating, especially if they have tried the search a couple of times.
You can help users recover by following two simple guidelines on your No Results page:
- Clearly explain that there are no matching results.
- Offer starting points for moving forward (e.g. online shop can suggest alternative products from the similar category).
Some of “no results” page as seen in the ‘don’t’ example is essentially a dead-end for the user. It stands in sharp contrast to the page that had contextual category or search query suggestions at the ‘do’ no-results page. I’m sure most of you would have guessed that site even without the branding.
We now know global search for any product site is a must to have and is a by far a default feature. With Google and big players investing massively in the search engine, machine learning and Ai the future only looks seems brighter for user assisted digital platforms and unfortunately remains to be an ‘Achilles heel’ for product’s without a product or global search.