Usable Search Function that Keeps Users Coming Back

Usable Search Function

Did you know that over half of all user are search dominant?
I’m a bit obsess about the search and it is values, cause i search a lot, special on e-commerce website, is fast to find want i want, without go through the categories, etc..


So how we can make this Search function that keep users coming back?


Think about the last time you went to YouTube to find something. Did you navigate its categories? Scan through your subscriptions? Nope. You searched.

Do You Even (need) Search?

According to Nielsen, the guidelines for including a search function is having over 200 pages. But, they also report that half of your users are going straight for the search button to find what they are looking for. That’s a lot.


Without search, those users are forced to use your navigation menu. This means you better be sure your content is organised properly, and your navigation menu is top notch.


Despite how much you try, a user is bound to get stuck. This is where your search box comes in. If the user can’t get to where they want to go, they fall back on search to get them there. Without search, they’ll just leave, and you may lose them for good.


Location very important

We know that users will look for the search box as soon as they run into any friction when trying to find something. You need to make sure they can easily find it.


Your search box should be on every page, and easy to find. No hiding your search in the footer. No tiny little search icon in the upper right corner.


Most sites put their search bar in the header, which is the perfect location for it. Users are comfortable with consistency across the web. If you place your search box where it is most common, it will easier for your users to find.



Apple website puts their search box right on header, and really stands out

How is should look like?

The search box should be only a box, as i mention before users get comfortable with consistency, location and visual design of the main elements, we shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken.


I have seen on last few years people trying to “re-invent” the search, add only the icon “search” on header and that’s it! which is opens a full screen overlay. this is awful, i barely see that icon there, and is too many actions just for a simple search.


It’s important the search box is long enough to fit all the things we are typing in. The recommend width is 27 characters, some sites go longer, just don’t go shorter.


A simple box with copy “search here” is enough and everyone know what to do there.


Don’t bother with including any type of advanced search features here. A plain box with some placeholder text asking users to search is perfectly fine.

What Content is Your Search Searching?

Your search should be generic. Meaning, it should search every piece of content on your site. Don’t return results only from the section the user is currently on.


Why? Because, this leaves it up to the user to guess what section the information they are searching for lives under. It’s the user!! You can’t leave anything up to them, they’ll burn the whole house down!


For example, if your user is navigating your site about shoes, attempting to find some odour eating insoles, they might head to the footwear section and search for them. Their search will return no results, because little do they know, the odour eating insoles are ACTUALLY under medical.


Always make your search return results from the entire site.

The Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

Your search results page (called the SERP) is a big deal. The search box itself is only as good as the results it returns, and they way it displays them.


Results can be displayed in a variety of ways, depending on how your content is formatted. But, there are some vital elements that every SERP should have.


Your search results page should contain:
  1. Your search box, at the top, with the phrase that was just searched
  2. The number of results returned
  3. A filter or sort menu for viewing results in a different priority
  4. An option to get to the advanced search page (if you have one)
  5. Large, prominent and clickable content titles
  6. Visited links in a different colour
  7. Navigation (pagination, infinite scroll, etc.)
  8. Search box again at bottom of results (if paginated)



Have a wonderful week,
Marco Lopes

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