According to Volusion, an ecommerce design solution, close to 60% of all online purchases are the resultsof customer search. This of course makes the site Search feature an absolute priority for all ecommerce sites – both to make search engines happy and for maximum conversions.
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1. Ensure Visibility, Clarity and Legibility
Your visitor should be able to clearly see your search navigation and search boxes on every page. Try designing the search box in a different color from the rest of the site’s scheme to make it stand out. Label it clearly as Search, and not as Go or Look.
2. Take Advantage Of Familiarity
Users are accustomed to finding the search box on top right side of the navigation. The eye goes to this default positioning, so it’s good to take advantage of this familiarity. Try testing various positions to see what works best for your site. Use the magnifying glass icon to increase familiarity.
3. Use Intuitive Text In The Search Box
Place some text within the search box to let users know your site search’s function. For example, mention if users can search based on keyword, catalogue product code or store location. Make sure this default text disappears the moment the users click the search field to enter their own search criteria, to avoid unnecessary frustration.
4. Allow Search Key Function
Most sites allow users to hit the Enter key after inputting the search criteria. This is the default behavior and users are accustomed to it. It’s easier and definitely more user-friendly to hit the Enter key than to move one’s cursor to click the Search button.
5. Allow Long-tail Semantic Searches
Use smart coding to ensure that your database responds to long-tail semantic searches, and not just keywords. Some sites return nonsense results or no results at all when long-tail search criteria are provided. Also, increase the size of your search box. For example, it would be hard to type out something like, “20 inch color flats screen TV with DVD” on a small search box. Allowing a reasonably-sized search box helps users to be able to view their entry in full and also correct it if needed.
6. Allow Users To Limit Search Scope
You can further provide a drop-down menu so users can select the group to which their search item belongs. For example if you sell electronic goods, users can select Television or Smartphone and use the search field only to fill in specific entries. This helps to speed up search results, prevents irrelevant results, and is also greatly useful if you have too many SKUs.
7. Enable Auto-Complete Function
An auto-complete function can do the thinking for the user, and offer suggestions based on what the user enters. By using auto-complete, you can speed up the search process, help users avoid misspellings, and also ensure a proper result.
8. Provide Advanced Search Options
An advanced search option is great when there are huge product databases. You could provide a regular search box and a link to advanced search, to help those that are not sure of what they want. Provide checkboxes of items to include in the search and drop-down menus of options to select and so on. Allow users to include or exclude clearance and sale items, new items, and various categories and so on.
9. Refine Search Results
It’s a great value-add to users if search results can be further refined and sorted. Create a search results page that uses individual cells to display products, along with pricing, ratings and available inventory. Provide sorting options on the left for further refinement. If possible, provide a small thumbnail of the product that the user can mouseover or click to see the full image.
10. Use Smart Breadcrumbs
Your users already know they’re on the Search Results page, so there’s no point in telling them that through unhelpful breadcrumbs. Instead, allow people to filter search results through the breadcrumbs. That way, they can pick the features they want, and not waste time on another search.
11. Place Navigation According To User Behavior
By default, people’s eyes progress naturally from left to right. You’ll get best results if you place navigation bars on the left. You can expand navigation bars to display drop-down menus to display product sub-categories.
12. Cross-Link Product Pages And Categories
By cross-linking categories and product pages, you can help the user to easily find related products. This ensures that the user spends more time on your site. It also helps reduce your bounce rate. Cross-linking is an excellent and effective search method, especially when the user is not sure of what he or she is looking for.
13. Create A Floating Sidebar
Include your most popular products or categories in the floating sidebar. Make sure the sidebar follows the shopper from the moment the shopper comes to the site till he or she leaves. By implementing intelligent analytics, you can present only those products and categories in the sidebar that the user will be interested in.
Tory Sterling contributes insightful business articles on various topics to blogs. She is an expert in the area of conversion rate optimization for ecommerce businesses.