According to e-commerce guru Amy Africa, search box users have the second highest propensity to buy. However, an average e-commerce site loses two-thirds of searchers, which is why text search is dubbed as “The Kiss of Death.” That having been said, there are a slew of things you can do to improve the search experience for visitors, and Amy touched on tips during a SiteTuners webinar:
1. Make the Search Box Bigger
The size of the search box impacts success. A bigger box results in fewer errors. If you have a small box, users will try to shorten the search keywords which will result to failure.
2. Position the Search Box Strategically
The position of the box determines how and when it will be used. If you have a good search functionality, put the box in the center. If your search is awful, bury it in the lefthand column, and put emphasis on your navigation. Search boxes in the upper righthand corner tend to be used more but it makes your site a browsing site rather than a buying site.
3. Consider a Split
This is something you’d want to do if your user’s aren’t great at searching. However, only about 30% of people will take advantage of the split. Have the categories display, and for certain types of queries, the auto-complete text should lead to the category.
4. Simplify Results
Remind visitors of what they search for, and then tell them how many items were found. Show results in order of importance because visitors will look at six to eight things, but the majority of their attention will go to the first two. If the first two are incorrect, visitors will think your search function is broken.
Allow users to refine the results, but there should only be five no more than 8 things in refinement boxes. One refinement is ideal, as a lot will confuse your visitors. If you have more than one refinement box, make sure they’re separate so users don’t think they can do both at the same time. They might pick two things that will not yield any results.
Limit your facets (categories) and the number of choices because an average user can use no more than three facets. Prioritize the facets and put them in order of importance –what’s important to the user for a particular product, not what you can offer.
It’s not uncommon for web sites to have hundreds to thousands of users for internal search. It\’s difficult to get it right, but it\’s ultimately a rewarding experience for both you and your visitors.
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