One of the important areas in an eCommerce website as far as the user experience is concerned is the site search. Any visitor who lands on your website and wants to buy a product will simply go the search bar, type his search query and get to the result.
This is why the search bar is designed so that a user does not have to take the long route (Going to the category, subcategories, brand type, etc). A search bar makes the task effortless.
To make the search experience better on your website, consider the following site search best practices.
1. Make the Search Bar visible
Whether a user is on the home page, product page or any page, the search box should probably follow users all the way throughout their journey (for most of the pages if not for all) so that they do not have to return to the home page to conduct the search and can make it from the page they are present on.
Secondly, make the search bar visible so that it is easy to spot at once. The navigation bar area is considered to be the perfect place for a search bar. Moreover, it should have a good design and good color. It shouldn’t look untidy.
2. Use Auto-suggest
This might seem obvious but is the most important one. Auto-suggest is one of the essential features of a perfectly optimized search bar, and is also referred to as “search as you type.”
Your search box should be smart enough to understand a user’s search query as soon as they start typing and hence should suggest the relevant results. It would be even better if the search results display the product thumbnail as well.
Auto-complete save a user’s time by reducing their efforts.
3. A good length search bar
The search bar should not be too long and not too short either. It should have a decent length such that it is able to cover a visitor’s long search query as well. If the search bar is short, the query would not be visible and can often lead to an incorrect search.
Allow users to check what they have typed so that typing errors do not occur.
4. Let users know what they can search for
It is seen on many websites that search results are displayed only for searches made under specific categories. I was once on a website that provides HD wallpapers, so while I was about to search the wallpaper I needed, the search box had a text that said “Search your device or resolution” which had cleared that the search bar is optimized to search only for the device and the resolution, and not anything else.
So put a text on your search bar to inform users what types of searches they can make. The text should disappear as soon as the user starts typing.
5. Search bar should understand Synonyms
A product can be called by many names, for example, earphones, headphones, headset, people usually call them the same. Same is the case with blazer, coat, and suit. So, if a user is searching with any of these terms, they should get the results that they are expecting.
6. Search bar should understand Abbreviations and Misspellings
A product can have an abbreviation and it is very likely that the customers would search for that product with its abbreviation instead of typing the whole search query.
Besides, make your search bar understand misspellings as well. It can happen very often that the user makes a mistake while typing his search query. The search bar mechanism should be able to understand what that query meant and what results should be displayed to the user based on it.
7. Let customers choose the way results are displayed
The job of the search bar is just to provide relevant results to the users. Once the results are displayed, it should be left to the user how he wants to organize the results. This is where the role of Sorting and Filtering comes into play.
Sorting allows the users to arrange results in the sequence they want, which can be based on the product price (low to high and high to low), popularity, freshness, etc.
Filtering, on the other hand, lets users filter the search results based on many things such as brand, color, ratings, etc.
8. Do not display Zero Results Pages
As they say, something is better than nothing, it applies in this case too. If the search bar is not able to understand the query, avoid displaying zero results.
You can create a text for such happenings, for example, you can display a message that says- “Oops, we could not search what you were looking for”.
But along with this message, you can display some of your bestsellers or the recently launched items just to avoid the blank page.
9. Add the option of Image Search
Many eCommerce websites including the eCommerce giant Amazon allow users to conduct image search. This comes as a very helpful feature for the users as it helps them look for the exact desired product. For example, if a user sees a photo of a shirt which he liked a lot and wants a similar item, he can simply make an image search on the store to check if that product is available on your website.
You can add an image search option on your website with the help of Image search module which is available for PrestaShop and OpenCart.
10. Voice Search
Another way to improve your eCommerce website search is by adding the voice search option on your website. With the growing popularity of Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, people have got used to of voice-search.
Providing your store visitors with the option to make voice-based search not only enhances the user experience but also makes their shopping journey convenient as it helps them to get to the desired product much quicker.
Get the voice search module for PrestaShop and Magento.
These are some of the common and popular eCommerce site search best practices. Site search is important not only from the point of improving user experience but has a significant impact on your conversions.
If you are able to guide your users to the right product, purchasing would be easy for them.
PrestaShop and OpenCart store merchants can try out Search Auto Suggest and Search more module respectively, to enhance the search functionality on their website.