This is a guest post by Subhankar Sarkar. If you’d like to contribute to our blog, feel free to get in touch with us.
“Search” is one of the primary options a visitor employs to discover content on your website.
It’s important to make searching on your website as intuitive as possible, to let users reach the content they are looking for easily. This will drastically increase your chances of conversion by helping users connect with a product or service they are most inclined to purchase.
But what happens, more often than not (unfortunately), is that a lot of thought isn’t spent making the search option user-friendly.
But worry not, there are several options which you could undertake or tweak to improve the search experience on your site.
So, without further ado, let’s discuss!
#1 Clear Placement
Your layout and design come into play here.
The most obvious position for the search option to be placed is in the primary menu. Why is that? Well, it’s quite simple. The primary navigation menu is the first place of interest for a user looking for content on your site. What happens when he doesn’t find what he’s looking for? The next option is obviously to search for the page. Since he is already looking at the primary menu, a search option right there would be the most convenient spot possible.
However, if you have a different layout, or have a mobile-first design, the top three locations for the search widget are:
- Header (Top or Primary Navigation Menu)
- The first widget in the sidebar
Since ‘search’ is available as a widget in WordPress, it can be easily placed in any of these locations.
#2 Proper Search Input Field
This is an important criterion to consider when designing your website.
It’s quite often observed that when a user has a pretty long query, only a part of the search query is visible in the search field because the field is not wide enough. But this could lead to poor search experience.
You see, not every user can search with a proper keyword or know how to frame a search query. As a ground rule, the length of the search bar should be at least 27 characters or higher. This covers the average query length.
Alternatively, you could look towards creating a more flexible search field (like you can find here on the WisdmLabs website).
#3 Tag Based Searching
Quite a few advanced search options include category or tag based searching. For example, the search field on Amazon. You can first filter by category and then enter a search query to view relevant results.
This helps give users a more clear idea of what he is going to get and how. Alternatively, it could also make users aware of what all your site has to offer.
Of course, to implement such a search technique, you need a complimentary content structure.
Suggested Reading: An Advanced Profile Search Functionality for BuddyPress
#4 Sticky Query
Well, “sticky query” might not be the technical term – but let’s go with it!
When a user enters a query, the query should remain in the search field and should not disappear. (Yes, some sites miss out this point)
What happens at times is that a user enters a query and hits enter/clicks search…. and *poof* the search query disappears. The user then has no idea what he had entered – which is okay if he finds what he’s looking for. But what happens when he doesn’t? He might be left guessing.
If he has the search query in sight, it’ll be just a matter of tweaking it to get the desired result; he does not need to retype the whole query.
#5 Autosuggest or Autocomplete Queries
Here’s the Google way of searching….. “Did you mean….?”
Quite often than not, a user might misspell or mistype a word, or might be in the midst of entering a search query and might not know how exactly to frame it.
Here’s when autosuggest or autocomplete options come into play.
Autosuggest or autocomplete options could help users articulate a query in the best way possible or use the most accurate keyword to get the desired result.
#6 Offering Advanced Search Options
With recent advancement in technology, users are often looking for more. It’s time you get on board.
Advanced search options include creating a more personalized search experience, or employing mobile-friendly search techniques like voice search.
Suggested Reading: Customizing WP Jobs Manager: Personalized Search Options
Improving the user experience when searching on your website is a part of improving the overall user experience of your site. Surely the WordPress default search option does not suffice. You need to integrate an advanced search plugin, or hire professional help, to make the search personalized for your needs.
Do remember, a website is a virtual representation of your brand – you’d want to leave users feeling positive.
About the Author
Subhankar Sarkar a.k.a. Subha is a passionate blogger and a freelancer.
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