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E-commerce Search Styles and Tips

What’s one design element least likely to be found on e-commerce sites?  It’s the search element, and what a shame.  So many sites decide to forgo giving users the opportunity to search a site for relevant information and quick finds, not realizing the harm that is done.

Why so important?  Well, the ability of customers to find what they’re looking for on a website operates much the same as it does in a store.  If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll likely leave and visit the competition.  If they do find it, a sale is likely to ensue. Designers should be open to including this important element more and more, especially in e-commerce.

The fact is search features are vital for smart e-commerce conversions, and even better, they’re not that hard to do.  In this post, we’ll take a look at a few in hopes that new ideas on e-commerce search will inspire you to find better things to do with your search design.

The Basics

A variety of different e-commerce search perspectives are out there and it’s important to decide on one before moving forward.  Next, turn your attention to the basics.  Search engines often are not used simply because they can’t be seen, so make the search is visible enough to be used regularly.

Pick a prominent position on the page for the search box – one that won’t be overlooked.  Furthermore, take steps to ensure that users get what they hope for with the search provided.  A search box that does not work or that provides poor results, may urge users to decide it’s simply not worth the time.

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What’s Your Style?

Keep in mind there are several search styles to choose from each with its own amount of complexity and usability.  The guiding factor here will of course be your target audience.  Omit irrelevant styles that don’t align themselves squarely with the needs of your customers. Here’s a brief description of each e-commerce search type:

• Basic or Advanced or both – basic search incorporates simple keywords for search; advance search incorporates filters, parameters, or facets.

• Filtered Search – users choose from options describing the depth of a search

• Parameter Search– a basic search, but with added text boxes and drop-down menus

• Facets Search – a basic search comes first, but then users can continue searching from the results page My fonts

What’s Your Search plan?

Equally important is setting out a search plan to guide the process.  To do this, put yourself in the shoes of a user and think carefully about how users act and think.  When deciding how to categorize products it may help to seek ideas from similar websites.

Consider the Advanced Search

Of those e-commerce sites that do use at least a basic search, the number using advanced search as well is often quite small.  The fact of the matter is that a better search can lead to increased sales, so it makes sense to do the very best to ensure that this goal is met by including design elements that get the job done. 

When designing advanced search, you’ll need to take decisions about how many filters to use, which parameters to set, which facets to incorporate and how to display the results.  Once facets are chosen, be sure to label them appropriately so that users are certain of the particular performance of each one.

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Search Tips

Beyond the basics, here are a few tips for designing searches:

1. Incorporate spell check.  This is a user-friendly tip that increases usability, so definitely a good choice.  eBay


2. Limit the number of facets.  A facet search can quickly get complicated with more than 10 facets, so keep the numbers small. 
3. vary the order of results.  Results don’t have to place the most searches for items first. Consider your users’ needs.  Perhaps they’d prefer the most popular items show up in a search. 

Conclusion

These basic search steps can guide great search, whether basic or advanced.  Keep in mind that advanced searches don’t have to be complicated, and with a little planning, they won’t be.  Definitely keep in mind the importance of a search.  It could make all the difference.

One Response to “E-commerce Search Styles and Tips”
  1. Promotional Products

    Thanks for the post! It was very informative. However as per my point of view creativity is required to create and maintain any e-commercial portal. It should be simple, easy to understand and user friendly for the customers. That’s more important because it will save time of the user to find anything online..
    Cheers,
    Susan Smith.

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