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Best Practices For Designing A Search Box

August 31, 2019 |
Brand & Identity, Design, UX, Web Design
Designing Search

Site search is one of the most important yet most overlooked functions of a website. Search acts like a convertor between the user and the app or website. It is highly unlikely to predict and offer all the information, that users may look for, on the landing page itself. The user expresses their information need as a query, and the app or website communicates its response as a set of results. Users expect smooth experiences when searching. They are typically judgmental about the quality of a website, primarily based on the effectiveness of its search results. Hence, it’s essential to give thought to some things while designing the UI behind search and results. In this article, we will discuss some of the best practices for designing search, which will not only simplify your UI but will also enhance the user experience.

You may want to explore the roadmap of website design

Designing Search: First of all, let’s understand when do we need a search feature on the website?

The essential determiner is the amount of content on a website. Smaller websites, with a limited amount of content, are better off without the search option. Search becomes increasingly central as websites grow in size and complexity.

E-commerce sites are probably the most common use cases for utilizing search because users are searching for specific products. In large e-commerce websites, search bars move out of the header and take on a central role in the UI. According to research, about a third of total visitors use the site search tool. People who use the search tool are looking for something specific; they know exactly what they’re looking for and are generally more aware as compared to other visitors.

Read more about designing the E-Commerce Product Pages

Few Useful Tips:

1. Show Search Field Notably

The most important rule in designing search box is to make it easily noticeable. If the search is an essential function for your website, it should be displayed prominently. Search can be the fastest route to discovery if users can quickly locate it. Retain an open text-entry search field. Users want a place where they can quickly go to type in their search query.

Search hidden behind an icon has negative consequences. It makes the search feature less noticeable. When used without an open-entry text field, the icon takes up less space. Visually, it’s less prominent and, therefore, less noticeable. Users have to take extra action to access the search box, which creates a negative user experience.

2. Strengthen Your Predictive Text, Autocomplete and Error Correction

How often have you typed a word in the Google search box and got amused by the suggestive results it shows? It’s amusing at times, but there’s a super-strong algorithm behind it, based on the searching patterns of billions of users. Search options need to be intuitive and smart.

Don’t expect your users to know the product names, how to correctly spell everything or anything else for that matter. They might not even know what they are looking for. Your site search function should be intuitive and smart enough to anticipate where the search is headed. It must begin listing suggestions while the shopper is still typing. Artificial intelligence (AI) and onsite search are like perfect partners.

3. Always Pair The Search Box With A Magnifying Glass

Users are accustomed to a few things on the web, and they expect the same everywhere, like icons. There are a few icons that have mostly universal recognition from users. Icons are, by definition, a visual representation of an object, action, or idea. The magnifying-glass icon is one such icon which has a universal meaning attached to it. Users recognize a magnifying-glass icon as meaning ‘search’ even without a text label.

One of the things to remember while designing search magnifying glass is not to make it complicated. The simplest version of the magnifying glass is the most effective one because lesser graphic details speed up recognition.

4. Place The Search Box Where People Expect It

The best place for the search box on a website is a heated topic of discussion, with several theories floating around it. However, many of the popular websites such as YouTube, Amazon, IMDB, BEST BUY, etc. place the search boxes towards the top center or top right of the page. A study conducted by A. Dawn Shaikh and Keisi Lenz found that the most convenient spot for users would be the top right or top left of every page on your site, where users could easily find it using the common F-shaped scanning pattern.

Placing it somewhere unexpected means users need to put in extra effort to find the search box. That’s more like searching for the place to search, which is not the ideal thing you want your users to do. Search boxes at the expected places would reduce the search time as well and will create a positive UX.

5. Tell Users What Can They Search

It is highly recommended to include a sample search query in the input field to suggest to users what queries can be used. As discussed earlier, users are not every time sure of what they are looking for, or what all things they can search using the search box. Providing them suggestions and sample queries will smoothly guide them. If the user can search for multiple criteria, use the input hint to explain that. However, ensure to limit your hint to just a few words, else, you will increase the cognitive load.

Placeholder text gives users clues about what to look for. In some cases, placeholder text may create an accessibility issue. When placeholder text is designed to be lighter in color than regular text, it creates a contrast problem. In addition, placeholder text is not widely supported by assistive technologies, making it more difficult for these users to fill out forms accurately.

A lot of designers don’t spend the required thoughts and time while designing search box. A search box is a useful tool to elevate user experience and increase business. We hope that these tips will come in handy when you design your next website with a search box. In case you wish to discuss in more detail, feel free to talk to our design experts.

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