Customers are accustomed to online searching and expect to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, especially when it comes to shopping. If customers can’t find a product on your website, they’ll search elsewhere and you may loose them forever. Therefore, having an intuitive and functional on-site search facility is imperative for ecommerce websites. However, according to a recent study by the Baymard Institute1, not many businesses are meeting customer expectations when it comes to on-site searching. So how can you improve your on-site search facility and reign in some of those lost sales?
How to Fix On-Site Search
The Baymard report found that the design of the search interface was almost as important as the search algorithm itself1. So putting efforts into the design of the search bar, the suggested search options and search results pages could see you capture lost leads without a great deal of effort.
Search Bar Design
The intuitive design of the search bar itself can help maintain a smooth user journey and allow users to progress without friction. In order to get the best out of your search bar, you can try a few things, including:
- Place it in a prominent position. Ideally, the search bar will be in the head2 of the site, so that it’s consistent and visible from every page3. This makes it easier to find, as most people are accustomed to the search box being in the top-right corner.
- Use a different color scheme4. Making the search bar a contrasting color to the rest of your site will help it stand out and make it easier to find. This will help customers who know what they want and just want to find it quickly.
- Make it obvious that it’s a search box. This will help make the search facility accessible and easier to use for casual or less frequent users. You can make the search box more obvious by:
- Including search suggestions, such as ‘enter product name’ or ‘search for a product, catalog no. or keyword’ in the search field3
- Labeling the search button ‘Search’, as opposed to ‘Go’ or using the magnifying glass icon
Using Autocomplete in the search field helps users by:
- Correcting difficult spelling
- Saving user effort
- Speeding up the search
This will help create a seamless user journey and shepherd users on their way smoothly.
Plus, you can use your website analytics to make your Autocomplete suggestions more relevant. Simply to track your on-site searches to learn what users are genuinely searching for, then tailor your suggestions to more closely align with popular products and search terms5.
Search Results Page
The search results page can be the difference between helping users progress with their journey and reviewing their search term. There are a few techniques we can use in order to allow users to find what they’re looking for without having to revise their search or try an alternative method, such as:
- Using imagery. Showing product images in your search results will help users find what they’re looking for at a glance. And if they can’t find what they’re looking for, then, if they can see your product offering, they’ll have more chance of being enticed by something similar.
- Showing social proof6. Including reviews and customer ratings on the items listed in the search results will help users find popular items. Even if your search algorithm isn’t perfect and your results aren’t perfectly matched, you can still help the customer on their journey by dangling a carrot.
- Including filters. If your site has masses of content, help users narrow things down post-search, by offering filtering options at the top or the side of the search results. For example, if you’re a retailer and a user searches for ‘smart shoes’, you can help them narrow this search down by offering filtering options such as ‘male or female’, ‘brand [list brands]', 'size [list sizes]’, ‘review ratings' and 'price range’.
- Creating a sense of urgency. This can encourage users to intuitively click the closest match from the first list of search results. Amazon uses “order in the next 4 minutes for free delivery”, some airlines use “only 2 seats available at this price” and some hotel booking websites use “22 people looking at this room right now” or “only 1 room left”.
Close the Gap
There may still be some work to do from a backend perspective, in order to display perfectly matched search results. In the meantime, start closing the gap by swaying potential deserters, boosting sales and edging in front of the rest of the ecommerce industry with these tips.