Search is critical to the modern web – the larger it has become, the more essential search engines like Google and Bing have made themselves to users.
The same is true for individual sites: the more content a particular website boasts, the more important it becomes that its users can find the content they need quickly and easily. This means great search functionality.
Imagine a brochure site with a lot of copy, or an ecommerce site with a lot of products. How does a user find what they need with a minimum fuss, rather than through maximum clicking? Internet users are impatient – they have come to expect ease.
The harder it is to find content on your site, the higher your bounce rate will be – that’s the metric which measures how quickly users leave you site. The higher your bounce rate, the lower your conversion rate. In other words, search sells.
So here are our five top tips for achieving great search – and therefore good returns – on your site:
Place The Search Bar Prominently. Putting the search bar where people will expect it to be is the first step to building a good user experience. People tend to look for search bars on the top right of the page. For most sites, this position will suffice, but for sites centered around information and resources, somewhere more prominent might be better. Understand your users, and then meet their needs.
Use Familiar Icons. Don’t reinvent the wheel – ease is about familiarity. People are well versed in the magnifying glass icon when it comes to searching for things, so adopt it as your own. Adding a line of text onto the search bar can further help guide people about where and what to search for on your website.
Trigger Search On “Click & Enter”. How will the search process be activated? Again use a mechanism that is intuitive, but not restrictive. It’s good practice to enable search triggering by either clicking on ‘Search’ or by pressing ‘ENTER’. While most of us will just press enter after typing, some of us may be used clicking a button. Offer both options.
Include A Search Bar On Your Results Page. Sometimes, a search doesn’t stop just after the first attempt. Refining your results is all part of the search process – after all, the results shown may not be what the user is looking for in the first instance, or they want to look for something else. Adding a search bar to the results page makes getting granular much more convenient.
Keep The Slugs. The “slug” is the alphanumeric identity assigned to a given page in your site architecture – for example, about-us or our-services. Displaying the “slug” in search results helps users better understand your site structure overall, and more importantly helps them make decisions about which results are most appropriate for their needs. If your search solution doesn’t do this by default, consider turning it on – orienting your users helps them find content.
And that’s it: add search functionality, and design it in such a way that it’s easy to access and even easier to use. Your site’s visitors will reward you.
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