The Importance of Site Search UX

Shoppers who use your search bar are highly motivated to buy and quick to convert when they find what they need. Relevant results are, of course, essential to this process. But beyond accuracy, the ease of your search experience has a huge impact on conversion rates. Read on for the UX best practices to keep in mind for search bar design and optimization. 


Why You Need to Optimize Search 

With all of the advancements in ecommerce tech, it’s easy to overlook the humble search bar. But, what site search lacks in novelty, it more than makes up for in ROI. According to one study, 43% of ecommerce site visitors go straight to the search bar, and searchers are at least 2-3x more likely to convert

However, irrelevant results and substandard site search UX frustrates users. Nearly three-quarters of shoppers say difficulty finding a wanted product is the main reason they abandon ecommerce stores. Among top-grossing ecommerce sites, an incredible 70% of search bars are unable to return relevant results for product type synonyms.

So, what can retailers do to avoid this problem and improve their site search UX?


7 Search Bar UX Best Practices

Follow these best practices to deliver an exceptional site search experience. 

7. Make Your Search Bar Easy to Find

Online shoppers have an ingrained expectation of where to find your search bar. Usually, they go straight to the top of the page, and look to the center or right hand side. While different placements are sometimes tempting for site design, it’s generally not a good idea for your UX. Hidden or flyout search boxes also make this crucial feature hard to find. 

6. Use a Clear Design

A white input field with a high contrast border is considered the best visual layout for your search bar. Include a clear search button that shoppers can easily click or tap, no matter their screen size. Consider adding placeholder text to your search field that prompts shoppers to “search by brand, style, or color.”  

5. Offer Autocomplete and Autosuggest

As a shopper begins to type their search query, provide instant search term predictions and product suggestions in a drop down. This eliminates the need for the shopper to fully type out long-tail search terms, and surfaces suggestions they might not have considered. Make sure to incorporate autocorrect to accommodate typos and misspellings. 

4. Personalize Search Results

The intent behind search queries varies significantly from shopper to shopper. With personalized search, your search bar serves up results in an order that is specific to the individual user’s on-site behavior. By gathering shopper data, search results are auto-configured to reflect each user’s preferences. 

3. Merchandise Search Results

Beyond search relevancy, improve the user experience by merchandising your results page. Apply boost rules so that new, popular, or top-rated products take the top spots, and take full control of the layout and appearance of your search results page. 

2. Support Persistent Queries

If a shopper inputs a search query but fails to find the perfect results, don’t force them to re-enter their search term. Keep the original query in the search bar so they can modify or add further qualifiers to narrow their results. For example, if a shopper searches for “black dress,” they might want to try “black dress long sleeves” as their next search term. 

1. Avoid Dead Ends

Avoid “no results found” at all costs if you want to deliver a smooth user experience. Even if a shopper searches for a specific product that you don’t carry, that doesn’t mean their journey has to end. Optimize your no results found page with suggestions for popular categories, similar alternatives, or helpful product finders that get shoppers back on track.  


Go Beyond Accuracy With Your Site Search Experience

At an absolute minimum, shoppers expect hyper-relevant results when they perform a search on your ecommerce store. For a truly exceptional shopper experience, retailers must deliver more than relevancy. Your search bar UX needs to be effortless, engaging, and personalized. At Searchspring, we transform retailers’ native platform search into a conversion machine. Get in touch today to learn more. 

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