Tuesday, May 28, 2024
HomeUSER EXPERIENCEBest Practices for Search Results

Best Practices for Search Results

Search is like a conversation between the user and system: the user expresses the request for information as a query, and the system responses with a set of results. The results page is a crucial piece of the search experience because it responds to users’ information needs.

In this article I would like to share 10 practices that will help you improve the search results UX.

1. Don’t erase users’ query after they hit Search button

Keep the original text visible in the search input field. Query reformulation is a critical step in the procedure of searching. If users don’t find what they’re looking for from the first attempt, they might want to search again using a slightly different query. To make it easier for them, leave the initial search query in the search box so they don’t have to re-type the entire query again.

2. Provide accurate and relevant results

First results page is golden. The results that users see on this page can make or break a site’s conversion rates. Users typically make very quick judgments about a website’s value based on the quality of one or two sets of search results.

It’s clearly important to return accurate results to users, otherwise they won’t trust the search tool. Thus, it’s vital to prioritize results in a useful way and all the most important to your users should appear on the first page.

3. Use effective autosuggest

If your site use autosuggest mechanism for search input you need to ensure that this mechanism is useful for your users. Autosuggest should help users speed up the search process by keeping them on-task toward conversion.

Image credits: ThinkWithGoogle

4. Correct typos

Typing is error prone. If a user mistypes a search term and you’re able to detect this, try to guess what users mean and search for it instead. This will prevent the frustration that your users will have when they see no results page.

There’s no support for query reformulation on the Apple store zero results page
Asos does a good job of displaying alternative results when a typo occurs without offending the user. It has a subtle messaging like ‘we also searched for Overcoats’ with the original search term of ‘Overcoatt’

5. Show the number of search results

When users see the number of search items, this information makes it easier for them to decide on how long they want to spend looking through results.

The number of matching results helps the user make more informed query reformulations.

6. Keep recent user’s search queries

Query formulation requires some effort. Even when users know what they searched for the last time they visited your website, they still need to recall information from their memory. When designing a search experience you should keep in mind a basic usability rule:

You site should store all recent searches, in order to provide this data to the user the next time they conduct a search.

Recent searches benefit the user in saving them time and effort in searching for the same item again.

Tip: Present less than 10 queries so the information doesn’t become overwhelming. For mobile devices its better to show 3–5 queries.

7. Choose proper page layout

One of the challenges of displaying search results is that different types of content require different layouts. Two basic layouts for content presentation are list view and grid view. A rule of thumb:

Let’s examine this rule in context of product page. Product’s specifics is very important moment. For products like appliances where details like model numbers, ratings and dimensions are major factors in the selection process — the list view makes most sense.

List view is better suited to a detail-oriented layout

A grid view is a good option for apps with products that require less product information and users rely on visuals to make their decisions. A good exampple is products like apparel—when choosing between items users often evaluate prodcuts by their appearance (how they look).

Grid view is better suited to a visually-oriented layout

Tips:

  • If you offer mixed types of products, allow users to choose ‘list-view’ or ‘grid-view’ for search results. This gives your users the freedom to choose how they want to view their results.
Allow users to change the layout by offering a range of views.
  • When designing grid layout, pick the right size of images so that they are large enough to be recognizable, yet small enough to allow more products to be seen at a time. This is especially important for mobile devices (due to small screen size).

8. Show search progress

Ideally search results should be displayed immediately, but if it’s not possible for some reason you can use a progress indicator to give users a visual feedback that the system is working. If it takes more than 10 seconds to deliver search results, you should use progress bar because it gives your users a clear indication of how long they need to wait.

Aviasales website notify users that search will take some time.

9. Provide sort and filter options

Sort and filters help users narrow down the search results and make them relevant to their intention.

Filter options can help users narrow and organize their results, which otherwise requires extensive (and excessive) scrolling or pagination.

Tips:

  • Do not hide the sort feature within the filtering feature — they are different tasks.
  • Clearly highlight enabled filters. Users show know what filters are active.

10. Don’t return ‘no results’

Dropping someone on a page with no results can be frustrating. Especially if they already have tried the search a few times. Avoid showing users dead-end search results pages (when the search produces no matching results). Provide valuable for user alternatives when there are no matching search results (e.g. online shop can suggest alternative products from the similar category).

A “no results” page as seen at HP example is essentially a dead-end for the user. It stands in sharp contrast to the page that had contextual category or search query suggestions at the no-results page, as seen in the Amazon example.

Conclusion

Search is a critical element of sites conversion. Users typically make very quick judgments about site’s value based on the quality of search results. That’s why search feature should help users find what they want quickly and easily.

Thank you!

Learn how to design better products

Interactions between computers and humans should be as intuitive as conversations between two humans. Interaction Design Foundation will help you to learn how to design for efficiency and persuasion.

Learn UX Design

Take all our online courses. Pay a flat fee. Get industry-recognized Course Certificates (see example) Self-paced…

www.interaction-design.org

Follow UX Planet: Twitter | Facebook

Originally published at babich.biz

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here